The reason Nadal never chokes (i.e. rarely ever lose to inferior players)

3lite

Professional
From reading his autobiography way back in 2011 and if my memory serves me right, the reason he hardly ever loses to players who are considered lesser talents or lower ranked than him can be attributed to two things:

1. Childhood (As a child, Nadal's parents would drive him 5 hours just so he could play older and more competitive players to gain experience. He noted that the 5 hour drive back home was one of the happiest/fondest memories of his childhood, especially after a victory. However, there was one instant where he lost to a player that he should have beaten and Uncle Toni was completely silent during the 5 hour ride home. As a result, Nadal never overlooked another opponent.)

2. Underdog/Inferiority Complex (Nadal believes everyone is more naturally talented than he is and because of this, he has to compensate by working twice as hard in training and during the match. For Nadal, it doesn't matter if his opponent is in the top 10 or the top 100, he only knows one way to win and that is to struggle "fighting" for every point). I personally believe this mentality is a direct result of how Uncle Toni trained him.
 

mistik

Hall of Fame
He begins to get nervous against his big rivals for the last 4 or 5 years. He lost winnable matches by not playing big points well. AO 2017 Wim 2018 perfect example off that.
 

ADuck

Legend
2. Underdog/Inferiority Complex (Nadal believes everyone is more naturally talented than he is and because of this, he has to compensate by working twice as hard in training and during the match. For Nadal, it doesn't matter if his opponent is in the top 10 or the top 100, he only knows one way to win and that is to struggle "fighting" for every point). I personally believe this mentality is a direct result of how Uncle Toni trained him.
If this is true, that may have been to Rafa's detriment, particularly on faster surfaces where to win you have to take command of rallies quickly.
 

Towny

Hall of Fame
Nadal has lost in earlier rounds and to inferior players at a higher frequency than both Federer and Djokovic. Multiple early round losses at Wimbledon during prime years (Rosol, Darcis, Kyrgios and Mueller) . Losses to Blake, Youzhny, Ferrer and Murray in his early years at the USO in spite of the fact that even at the time, he was far more accomplished on hard court than all of them. QF losses to Gonzalez, Murray and Ferrer at the AO also in his prime years.

Also, a loss to an inferior player isn't necessarily a choke. They could be redlining on the day or the better player could be playing below his normal standards. Doesn't mean it's a choke
 

tennis_pro

Bionic Poster
Nadal fans will tell you that he has great records against Federer, Djokovic and Murray in the Slams. And he still has "only" 17 Slams. So who was beating him all these times?
 

RaulRamirez

Legend
Nadal has lost in earlier rounds and to inferior players at a higher frequency than both Federer and Djokovic. Multiple early round losses at Wimbledon during prime years (Rosol, Darcis, Kyrgios and Mueller) . Losses to Blake, Youzhny, Ferrer and Murray in his early years at the USO in spite of the fact that even at the time, he was far more accomplished on hard court than all of them. QF losses to Gonzalez, Murray and Ferrer at the AO also in his prime years.

Also, a loss to an inferior player isn't necessarily a choke. They could be redlining on the day or the better player could be playing below his normal standards. Doesn't mean it's a choke
I agree with your last point.

This is hard to assess. One way to do so is to note that Rafa has the highest overall winning percentage on the tour - slightly higher than either Novak or Roger. He also has the highest overall winning percentage at slams. I'm not sure what all this means, though in careers with well over 1,000 matches played spiece, each of The Big 3 will have suffered some upsets.
 

Towny

Hall of Fame
This is hard to assess. One way to do so is to note that Rafa has the highest overall winning percentage on the tour - slightly higher than either Novak or Roger. He also has the highest overall winning percentage at slams. I'm not sure what all this means, though in careers with well over 1,000 matches played spiece, each of The Big 3 will have suffered some upsets.
Yeah I don't think there's a massive difference between Nadal, Federer and Djokovic's ability to handle inferior players but I would give the latter two the edge. I certainly wouldn't say it's an advantage Nadal has over them. They both have large SF streaks. Nadal has never made more than 5 in a row. They both have longer finals streaks than Nadal as well, with Fed's being much longer. Since wining his first slam, Federer has lost prior to the QF on 8 occasions, including the last 2 slams. Nadal has lost prior to the QF on 12 occasions. Djokovic has on 5 occasions. It's not conclusive but it's an indicator.

Regarding win percentage, I think it's somewhat warped by Nadal entering his prime so early (which is credit to him, of course). He played only 5 slams before his RG 05 win. Djokovic played 11 before his first final in 2007. Federer played 18 before his first Wimbledon win. It would be interesting to see the win percentages of each of them from their first slam win/final onwards. Nadal may still have the edge, but I doubt it would be to the same extent
 

RaulRamirez

Legend
Yeah I don't think there's a massive difference between Nadal, Federer and Djokovic's ability to handle inferior players but I would give the latter two the edge. I certainly wouldn't say it's an advantage Nadal has over them. They both have large SF streaks. Nadal has never made more than 5 in a row. They both have longer finals streaks than Nadal as well, with Fed's being much longer. Since wining his first slam, Federer has lost prior to the QF on 8 occasions, including the last 2 slams. Nadal has lost prior to the QF on 12 occasions. Djokovic has on 5 occasions. It's not conclusive but it's an indicator.

Regarding win percentage, I think it's somewhat warped by Nadal entering his prime so early (which is credit to him, of course). He played only 5 slams before his RG 05 win. Djokovic played 11 before his first final in 2007. Federer played 18 before his first Wimbledon win. It would be interesting to see the win percentages of each of them from their first slam win/final onwards. Nadal may still have the edge, but I doubt it would be to the same extent
Yours is a valid way of approaching this. They've all played so many matches and been at the top for so long, that there are different ways to assess this. And even if we had the ultimate answer, it's just a small aspect of a small aspect of GOAThood, which is a small part of tennis, a tiny part of sports, which in turn is....

I got carried away..,anyway, it's a nice retreat from the Trump Era.
 

RaulRamirez

Legend
He's choked in 3 AO finals, but hopefully not 5, we #bullieve
Choked against Stan ( who was playing great) when his back went out? Choked against Fed, who to his credit, played brilliant offensive tennis from 1-3 down in the 5th? Choked against his greatest rival after 6 hours of spilling his guts? Okay...I guess it's that simple.
 

Sputnik Bulgorov

Professional
I agree with your last point.

This is hard to assess. One way to do so is to note that Rafa has the highest overall winning percentage on the tour - slightly higher than either Novak or Roger. He also has the highest overall winning percentage at slams. I'm not sure what all this means, though in careers with well over 1,000 matches played spiece, each of The Big 3 will have suffered some upsets.

I will tell you why this is so. He has a 92% win percentage on clay and a 98% win percentage in RG, bringing everything up. He never gets upset on clay (at times, never even loses!), but he has been more likely to lose early in the other 3 slams than Federer and Djokovic.
 

junior74

Talk Tennis Guru
Underdog Dustin Brown says "guten Tag"
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RaulRamirez

Legend
I will tell you why this is so. He has a 92% win percentage on clay and a 98% win percentage in RG, bringing everything up. He never gets upset on clay (at times, never even loses!), but he has been more likely to lose early in the other 3 slams than Federer and Djokovic.
Sure, that's one reason. Compared to everyone else on tour, though, his percentages at the other majors are still very high (anyone but Fed and Novak would dream of having them) and this despite being somewhat worn down by clay by the time he gets to Wimbledon.
 

robthai

Hall of Fame
I think OP meant to say is that healthy Nadal rarely chokes to inferior players. This includes Fed and Djoko, both of whom are inferior to healthy Nadal. Healthy Nadal is still undefeated at slams according to many.
 

citybert

Hall of Fame
Doesnt he lose when he is injured? Pretty much every loss since 2004? Technically healthy nadal is undefeated.
 
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