The hamburg match

I've been trying to find a thread that discusses the tennis/strategy related topics of this match, but I got tired or reading silly posts against Rafa, responded by silly posts against Roger. If you like that, please go to those threads.
Now on topic; What was the difference?. I think Roger played very agressively, kinda ala Blake, and it took one set to establish his game. He then hit many winners, not trying to rally a lot.
I didn't think his serve maked a big difference, or that he went to the net a lot more.
I saw him hittting his reverse forehand from the backhand corner, pretty much like Moya does, avoiding long rallies with his 1hbh.
Finally, I saw Rafa desoriented, and maybe a litlle bit tired, mentally an phisically.
Your thoughts please
 

mdhubert

Semi-Pro
His serve was a definitely a factor, he was quite authoritative from the second set on. He found great depth, his groundstocks clicked and he volleyed well, not too much bu pretty convincingly. He won because he dictated, he took the ball early, including on returns. Rafa was tired and his lift was less effective on the Hamburg clay.

Fed still has a huge task in front of him if he meets Nadal in Roland. The latter will be eager to take his revenge (did he swallow the bagel ?), it will be best of 5, he will be rested and the surface, similar to Monte-Carlo, suits his game. The positive thing for Fed is fellow players can build dangerous game plans against Nadal with the examples of Davydenko in Rome, Hewitt and Federer in Hamburg, so Nadal has more chances to have tough matches on the way to the finals, which was not really the case in past editions.
 

JLyon

Hall of Fame
Federer is a master tactician. I think he has been searching for weaknesses in opponents everytime he plays them. Nadal has few weaknesses and he plays an aggressive counter-punch style that gives Federer fits. The FO should be entertaining if Nadal can hold up after a long successful clay season. Federer is a WC right now as he had a rather poor Spring Season by his standards (very good by others). Winning Hamburg on slower clay should give him a boost of confidence, but Nadal now also has a week to rest his body as he takes a beating every match due to his Muster-like style of play.
Federer will have to serve great and control his FH in order to be successful.
 

Shaolin

G.O.A.T.
Nice thread. I was hoping someone would start up an intelligent discussion about the match. Just wondering, did Federer bring Nadal up to the net much (using his often effective midcourt low backhand slice?) I was also wondering if Fed used any dropshots and how many. These shots could be factors at RG since Fed will have to be on fire from the baseline to win against Nadal but he also has the ability to win with his craftiness I feel.
 

R.Federer

Semi-Pro
the key to federer in beating nadal on clay is the backhand if its working and when he gets the chnace with the forward he should be agressive, like in hamburg. nows hes got that mental block out the way he will be so confident in dishing out another yummy bagel to nadal
 

Nadal_Freak

Banned
the key to federer in beating nadal on clay is the backhand if its working and when he gets the chnace with the forward he should be agressive, like in hamburg. nows hes got that mental block out the way he will be so confident in dishing out another yummy bagel to nadal
Yeah the backhand has to be working. My prediction is the ball bounces higher at the French Open making Nadal's topspin harder to handle for Federer's backhand.
 

R.Federer

Semi-Pro
Yeah the backhand has to be working. My prediction is the ball bounces higher at the French Open making Nadal's topspin harder to handle for Federer's backhand.
well federer will have to deal with that if he wants to win but doesnt the ball bounce higher in hamburg as its slower i thought, maybe im wrong, either way as i said federer has to deal with that high bounce and we know federer has the skill to do it so hopefully we will see in the french open.
 

ktownva

Semi-Pro
Federer's movement was the difference IMO. He was sliding into his forehand and hitting while sliding/stopping, recovering much better than before. He used to run through the forehand, sliding after contact, leaving him off the court. His footwork seemed very grooved, like he was ready to grind all day. By recovering quickly after chasing Nadal's inside out forehands, he was in better position to get to his backhand before it kicked up. Overall, he just moved to the ball much more purposefully than in previous matches, where he seemed to wait for it to come to him.
 
he played horrible in the first set. being controlled by nadal, hit conservatively didn't get more than 1/5 first serves in. after saved a couple break points in the 2nd and broke nadal he got more confidence, hit more aggressively.
 

asitkin

New User
He used the same tactic as Davydenko in Rome – taking balls earlier, hit flat and deep down the middle. Hewitt tried to do it as well but Nadal started hitting with even more topspin and Lleyton is not tall enough and fast to handle this. Looks like a new trend
 

Nadal_Freak

Banned
He used the same tactic as Davydenko in Rome – taking balls earlier, hit flat and deep down the middle. Hewitt tried to do it as well but Nadal started hitting with even more topspin and Lleyton is not tall enough and fast to handle this. Looks like a new trend
I didn't see the Davydenko match but the conditions in Hamburg suited flat hitters. Otherwise Hewitt probably doesn't get as far as he did. I think the speed and bounce of the courts were similar to the Australian Open this year. Medium speed and low bounces. French Open is slightly slower and clearly a higher bounce from what I've seen. The most similar surface to the French Open is Monte Carlo. In terms of clay courts.
Monte Carlo -> Medium-slow speed and High bounces
Rome -> Medium-Fast speed and Medium bounces
Hamburg ->Medium speed and low bounces.
 
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rwn

Semi-Pro
The key for Federer lies in the return. If he takes them early and hits them aggressively and deep he has chances in every Nadal service game. If he has a defensive mindset and slices the return he will barely make a break and lose. But maybe now he finally understands it. Aggression is the magic word.
 

CyBorg

Legend
I think Nadal's serve was an issue. He needs to make sure he's serving well at Roland Garros - otherwise he'll be vulnerable to breaks. Nadal was serving like gangbusters at Monte Carlo but has gotten gradually worse at that since. Federer, in the meantime, seems to be finding his serve.

I'm curious to see how all of this turns out.
 

R.Federer

Semi-Pro
i hope federer keeps his aggressive play throughout the french open so it would be primed if nadal gets to the final
 

jmverdugo

Hall of Fame
I think Federer really used some of the Blake´s game and actually took some time to study the Davy-Nadal game. He was taking the balls early with his backhand, usually when you take the ball early what comes out is a flat shot, Im pretty shure he did try this @ MC I remember him doing it, but he wasnt quite on the zone as he was on Hamburgo. Granted Nadal was tired, he is the ATP pro with more match played nowdays. But Federer was also using the angles more than usual and was not afraid of hitting to Nadal´s fh. As somebody said is not like Fed found the weakness of Nadal, He just found a way to play against Nadal that fits his strokes and form of playing. I do not think the ball bouncing high or higher will have much to do in FO. But everything will come to how much time of play will have both on their shoulders, because one thing is for sure, they are going to run alot.
 

knasty131

Professional
I think he got more confidence in his forehand and started hitting it better and less tentative...also his serve picked up ALOT after that first set...if his serves are good and his forehand are on, he can take nadal on clay...otherwise...there is a reason nadal is called the king of clay...

for the record, i am a fed fan...i just believe federer has to be on his game to take nadal on clay...nadal is consistently superior on clay though
 

Nadal_Freak

Banned
I do not think the ball bouncing high or higher will have much to do in FO.
It makes a huge difference. Fed's slices and flat shots are that much more effective when the ball stays low along with Nadal's topspin is that much more effective when the ball is up high. I think the temperature has a lot to do with that. The hotter the temperature, the higher the ball bounces. Nadal's grip makes it hard to hit low balls as well.
 

jmverdugo

Hall of Fame
It makes a huge difference. Fed's slices and flat shots are that much more effective when the ball stays low along with Nadal's topspin is that much more effective when the ball is up high. I think the temperature has a lot to do with that. The hotter the temperature, the higher the ball bounces. Nadal's grip makes it hard to hit low balls as well.
I guess you are right, It would make a difference if Federer let the balls go up, however, I was talking in the case Federer manages to hit the ball early then it wouldnt matter how high the ball CAN bounce, because Federer shouldnt let them go as high.
 

calculus

New User
Some factors contribute to Roger's win:

1. Roger finally realized that rallying crosscourt with his backhand to Nadal's forehand is a losing strategy. In the whole match, we rarely saw Roger made more than 3 consecutive backhand cross-court shots. His first option is to run around and attack with his forehand. Since he can hit both crosscourt and down the line from that position, it instantly put Nadal on defense. If he can't run around using forehand, he will hit backhand down the line to Nadal's forehand. So he didn't allow Nadal camp on his forehand side. Nadal rarely hit outright winner at the first shot. It seems that he needs to hit a few shots, finds the timing, then unleash his killer shot. So by moving him around, Roger denied his comfortable pattern.

2.Attacking Nadal's top spin shots on the rise. He probably knew that trading topspin shots with Nadal is not in his favor, he attacked those shots on the rise whenever he can. It's a very difficult shot, he made many errors in his matches against Nadal because of it. It's the shot that he doesn't need to make so often when facing other players. We can say that Nadal forced Roger to play out of his comfortable zone. But in the 2nd and 3rd set, the scare thing for Nadal is that Roger brought him into a comfortable zone for hitting those shots. Those winners on the forehand side are just spectacular! Actually, not just on forehand side, Roger also did on backhand side. The down the line shots from both forehand and backhand earned Roger quite some points.

Basically, Roger moved balls around the court and went on attacking the first short ball he can get. Nadal is great with his topspin shot, but if he can not get enough depth on the shot ( often the case when he was rushed around the court), Roger was right there waiting for it. Nadal obviously realized it, his answer is trying to hit deep shot to Federer's backhand side, then he was on the attack the next shot. There are some rallies that attacker and defender switched roles a few times before the point was decided. It seems that Roger turned out on the upper hand in those points.

3, Keep attacking the net. Nadal made some great passing shots in the match. Roger was not deterred. He kind of accepted that Nadal will win some points on passing shots. He has to pick the right moment and apply constant pressure. His great athletism earned him some key points at the net. It also destroyed Natal’s baseline rhythm.

4. Finally,Roger served better and adjusted his running forehand, making very few errors there (compared with other matches he played at Hamburg).
 
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FiveO

Hall of Fame
He used the same tactic as Davydenko in Rome – taking balls earlier, hit flat and deep down the middle. Hewitt tried to do it as well but Nadal started hitting with even more topspin and Lleyton is not tall enough and fast to handle this. Looks like a new trend

There were many contributors to Fed's success:

Better but not great serving numbers,

Consistently more aggressive returning,

Committing to attacking the net at the first/best opportunity,

but I think the biggest and most noticeable tactical change was staying much more toward the middle in baseline exchanges and denying Nadal easy access to angles. This subtle but important change caused Nadal's UE's to rise when he tried to create angle off less than optimal position and/or to go out of his comfort zone reaching for greater depth.

There were other factors as well, fatigue, focus, etc. but IMO the tactical approach was major.
 

christos_liaskos

Professional
For me Nadal's level dropped and Federer's increased, atleast from his recent form over the past couple months.

Nadal's all round game did not seem upto its usual high standard in the two matches I saw of him in Hamburg - semi and final and results in earlier round suggest he wasnt on top form then either. Against Federer and Hewitt he missed many down the line forehands - shot which has brought him plenty of winners in during his success. This inability to hit the winning shot could be tiredness, loss of confidence or just a dip in form. My guess is it could be all 3.

As the match wore on I definitely felt Nadal got more tired and cofidence fell even more as he realised he was struggling with his fitness. These two things contributed to what a major factor in Federer being able to hit so many winners and dictate play. Nadal started to drop many balls short without much pace and where just sitting there Federer to take a whack at.

The second set I feel was the turning point in Nadal's confidence dropping and Federer's lifting. Federer started to serve much better with higher % 1st serves. This helped him hold serve much easier and therefore his confidence rose. This is when he actually raised his level. His confidence was not yet sky high but he forced himself to play more aggressive in his returns. As he made more shots and Nadal was no longer winning rallies with his down the line forehand which has burnt Federer so many times, this gave Federer a small breakthrough.

As he closed in on the second set most of the hard work had been done. He had forced himself to play aggressive while not feeling too confident and it payed off - this is a sign of a champion. By the time he took the 2nd set his confidence was also a factor now and therefore could keep up the high level of play. Also at this stage I dont think it was just Nadal's inability to not convert on shots he usually wins but I think he was clearly physically not 100% anymore. This is when he started to drop in the short balls which Federer just ate up with his new confidence. I think thats pretty much how the 3rd set played its self out. A vicious cycle of Nadal losing confidence and fitness and therefore not controlling play and therefore Federer hit more winners, confidence grew and dictated more. All of that equals 3rd set bagel.

If Federer can keep up his confidence (which could be tough at the moment because he is just on the edge and could fall back at any moment if any slight thing were to go wrong) then I think he could take care of Nadal again. He may have to grind for a set or two but eventually Nadal will have a slight dip and start to drop in short balls again at which point Federer must take advantage like he did in Hamburg towards the end of the 2nd and all of the 3rd sets. It will be interesting to see if Nadal finds his range straight away with his forehand at RG. He has been making those shots almost 100% of the time of the last two years and therefore his opponents didnt know wether to cover cross court or down the line. If he continues to miss the down the line like he did against Federer, Hewitt and I think Davydenko, then it could be a big opening for his opponents to take advantage of.
 
It is difficult to tell on TV but for me the obvious difference was that Fed felt comfortable hitting Nadal's heavy topspin. Against any other player, Federer tracks their shots perfectly, time his movement and approach to a millisecond therefore he gets tremendous power and spin on his shots. With Nadal on clay, and even to a lesser extent on other surface, Federer has always looked to me, a bit confused as how when, where, and how to hit the Nadal's topspin.

Last two sets of Hamburg, Federer showed none of the discomfort, that's it really. When Fed can read your shots, he imposes his total game on you.

It will be very interesting to gather more data to figure out the various reason s why Fed got, is becoming more comfortable with Nadal spins. Was it due to Nadal tiring and his topspin becoming just like any other heavy spinner and not that extra level of twistedness that only Nadal can hit? Did a light bulb went off inside Fed's head and he suddenly can figure out the spin.

Federer strategy was nothing new. If he's comfortable, he'll throw everything at you, and see what sticks that day. That's what I saw, Federer did many options and tested Nadal at any turn.
 
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