Ultimate mental toughness?

smoledman

G.O.A.T.
Djokovic came from a break down in the 5th set(2012 AO) to beat Nadal. Federer just did the same thing. Has Nadal ever done that? Sampras? Laver, Borg?

Nadal is mentally tough in the sense that he's come from behind in matches, but I think being down in the 5th set is the toughest hurdle which he has never overcome. I think it's interesting that he's coughed up 2 5th set leads against his biggest rivals.

Federer used to be criticized for his poor 5th set record. After this 2017 AO, you can't make the argument anymore.

Federer is the toughest mentally in history.
 

Jackuar

Hall of Fame
Nope. Easy answer. I'll say this even as a Fed fan. I'll give it to Rafa. He is the toughest indeed. Losing one tight 5th set doesn't make one mentally weaker. Look at the BPs save and BPs converted and UEs throughout their career. Roger fails miserably. He'd have been on 25 slams if not.
 

TripleATeam

G.O.A.T.
Djokovic came from a break down in the 5th set(2012 AO) to beat Nadal. Federer just did the same thing. Has Nadal ever done that? Sampras? Laver, Borg?

Nadal is mentally tough in the sense that he's come from behind in matches, but I think being down in the 5th set is the toughest hurdle which he has never overcome. I think it's interesting that he's coughed up 2 5th set leads against his biggest rivals.

Federer used to be criticized for his poor 5th set record. After this 2017 AO, you can't make the argument anymore.

Federer is the toughest mentally in history.
Wait, did you compare Fed's mentality to Djokovic's, then present a flaw in Fed's mentality, then claim without this flaw, he's better than anyone?

Logically following from what I read, Djokovic is the ideal to aspire to here. Once Fed reached Novak's ideal, he surpassed it.

Personally, being able to come back from 2 sets down time and time again, having the whole crowd against you more often than not, and saving as many match points as possible signals a mentally strong player, although maybe not a very good one, as they do face match points. Any player that does the first two are in my book mentally sound. The third is optional, really, but I'd rather they win then lose on a match point.

Really, I can name a few players with better mentality than Fed. He can't be the GOAT in every aspect of the sport. Just many- but mentality is not one.
 

AnOctorokForDinner

Talk Tennis Guru
The Big 3 are all incredibly strong mentally. Federer showed less peak mental strength than Nadal/Djokovic, but he managed to compensate for it by being stronger at coming back from defeats and trying again and again, not allowing losses to derail him. He didn't allow wins to derail him either - I still find it odd that Djokovic did to such an extent.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Wait, did you compare Fed's mentality to Djokovic's, then present a flaw in Fed's mentality, then claim without this flaw, he's better than anyone?

Logically following from what I read, Djokovic is the ideal to aspire to here. Once Fed reached Novak's ideal, he surpassed it.

Personally, being able to come back from 2 sets down time and time again, having the whole crowd against you more often than not, and saving as many match points as possible signals a mentally strong player, although maybe not a very good one, as they do face match points. Any player that does the first two are in my book mentally sound. The third is optional, really, but I'd rather they win then lose on a match point.

Really, I can name a few players with better mentality than Fed. He can't be the GOAT in every aspect of the sport. Just many- but mentality is not one.

federer has come back from 2 sets to love 10 times IIRC ..

Mental toughness - at worst, you can put fed at #5 in the open era IMO, after nadal, sampras, borg, djokovic (these 4 in any order)
 

TripleATeam

G.O.A.T.
federer has come back from 2 sets to love 10 times IIRC ..

Mental toughness - at worst, you can put fed at #5 in the open era IMO, after nadal, sampras, borg, djokovic (these 4 in any order)
Oh, yeah. Big time. Wouldn't have 18 if he didn't have the mind for it. He's just doesn't have the greatest one in the history of the sport.

My points earlier were not a criteria for toughness, but rather anyone who does those points is tough. You can be a mentally sound player while also being a fan favorite. You can't really be the antithesis of a fan favorite and be mentally unsound.
 

ChrisRF

Legend
Djokovic came from a break down in the 5th set(2012 AO) to beat Nadal. Federer just did the same thing. Has Nadal ever done that?
I'm a Federer fan, but in all fairness we should equally mention Nadal's comeback against Djokovic at Roland Garros 2013, which was the equivalent of a Grand Slam Final, because the real final against Ferrer was nothing more than a formality due to the draw. And that would have counted for Djokovic as well.
 
D

Deleted member 733170

Guest
Nadal probably plays with more intensity than anyone else in the history of the game. It is almost as if every point is match point for him.

However intensity and so called 'mental toughness' are slightly different things.

The Big 3 are all as tough as they come and fight to the end. The margins are way too small in this game to start implying that one has better 'mental strength' than the other.

I would say Federer was tight in some of his recent finals against Djokovic, but then again the pressure was always on the most celebrated player, the GOAT. It is good that he has got the monkey off his back and will hopefully play without the recent pressure of tough losses for the balance of his career.
 

Russeljones

Talk Tennis Guru
Djokovic came from a break down in the 5th set(2012 AO) to beat Nadal. Federer just did the same thing. Has Nadal ever done that? Sampras? Laver, Borg?

Nadal is mentally tough in the sense that he's come from behind in matches, but I think being down in the 5th set is the toughest hurdle which he has never overcome. I think it's interesting that he's coughed up 2 5th set leads against his biggest rivals.

Federer used to be criticized for his poor 5th set record. After this 2017 AO, you can't make the argument anymore.

Federer is the toughest mentally in history.
Is this trolling?

I would say Nadal is as tough as they come. Watch him save breakpoints; watch him in key points, 0-30 etc. He is incredible.
 

MichaelNadal

Bionic Poster


carrabbas_trio.jpg
 

Feather

Legend
Wait, did you compare Fed's mentality to Djokovic's, then present a flaw in Fed's mentality, then claim without this flaw, he's better than anyone?

Logically following from what I read, Djokovic is the ideal to aspire to here. Once Fed reached Novak's ideal, he surpassed it.

Personally, being able to come back from 2 sets down time and time again, having the whole crowd against you more often than not, and saving as many match points as possible signals a mentally strong player, although maybe not a very good one, as they do face match points. Any player that does the first two are in my book mentally sound. The third is optional, really, but I'd rather they win then lose on a match point.

Really, I can name a few players with better mentality than Fed. He can't be the GOAT in every aspect of the sport. Just many- but mentality is not one.

The OP is not a Roger Federer fan by any stretch. He is just trolling!
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
federer has come back from 2 sets to love 10 times IIRC ..

Mental toughness - at worst, you can put fed at #5 in the open era IMO, after nadal, sampras, borg, djokovic (these 4 in any order)
Not that I disagree, but why is Djokovic mentally tougher necessarily? He lost many important slam matches to Murray, Stan and Nishikori.
 

Kalin

Legend
Nadal did anything humanly possible in the 5th but serve well; his serve just wasn't there. Fed won this, can't pin it on Nadal.

But yes, not a big fan of Rafa but he is by far the toughest mentally of all recent players. I guess Borg was very tough too... which probably contributed to the early burnout :( I assume Connors must have been supremely tough mentally as well; haven't watched many of his matches.
 

-NN-

G.O.A.T.
Nadal did anything humanly possible in the 5th but serve well; his serve just wasn't there. Fed won this, can't pin it on Nadal.

But yes, not a big fan of Rafa but he is by far the toughest mentally of all recent players. I guess Borg was very tough too... which probably contributed to the early burnout :( I assume Connors must have been supremely tough mentally as well; haven't watched many of his matches.

I guess Federer's career and long-term toughness >>> Borg's. In match toughness; Borg, Nadal, Sampras and Djokovic stand out to me.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
Nadal did anything humanly possible in the 5th but serve well; his serve just wasn't there. Fed won this, can't pin it on Nadal.

But yes, not a big fan of Rafa but he is by far the toughest mentally of all recent players. I guess Borg was very tough too... which probably contributed to the early burnout :( I assume Connors must have been supremely tough mentally as well; haven't watched many of his matches.

I thought Nadal served excellently under pressure, made a lot of first serves, mixed up the placement etc...
 

Kalin

Legend
I guess Federer's career and long-term toughness >>> Borg's. In match toughness; Borg, Nadal, Sampras and Djokovic stand out to me.

Long-term, yes, what Roger has done the past few years is amazing; the 2017 AO just put the exclamation mark. In-match I agree that those 4 are outstanding.

I thought Nadal served excellently under pressure, made a lot of first serves, mixed up the placement etc...

But he still gave up BPs in every game he served in during the 5th set; that's what someone posted in another thread. BPs in all 4 service games.

Yes, he served at 85% first serves in the 5th set... which shows he was taking quite something off it. I agree with you he served as well as he could have; however, his serve is just not that good now (compared to the top servers, like Roger). Rafa showed incredible mental toughness to save the majority of the BPs. But he just gave up too many of them and Roger capitalized in the end.
 

-NN-

G.O.A.T.
Long-term, yes, what Roger has done the past few years is amazing; the 2017 AO just put the exclamation mark. In-match I agree that those 4 are outstanding.



But he still gave up BPs in every game he served in during the 5th set; that's what someone posted in another thread. BPs in all 4 service games.

Yes, he served at 85% first serves in the 5th set... which shows he was taking quite something off it. I agree with you he served as well as he could have; however, his serve is just not that good now (compared to the top servers, like Roger). Rafa showed incredible mental toughness to save the majority of the BPs. But he just gave up too many of them and Roger capitalized in the end.

I think we look too much at mental toughness in the clutch. Nadal was clutch but maybe there's something to be said for mental weakness given that he served at such a high percentage yet did no damage with his serve. Maybe he expected a capitulation from Roger that never came. I really don't know, but to my mind Federer was way stronger mentally in the 5th set than Nadal. I think Roger went out to get the match, and Nadal mainly tried to survive, with his greatest moments of survival showcased on break points against.
 

xFedal

Legend
Djokovic came from a break down in the 5th set(2012 AO) to beat Nadal. Federer just did the same thing. Has Nadal ever done that? Sampras? Laver, Borg?

Nadal is mentally tough in the sense that he's come from behind in matches, but I think being down in the 5th set is the toughest hurdle which he has never overcome. I think it's interesting that he's coughed up 2 5th set leads against his biggest rivals.

Federer used to be criticized for his poor 5th set record. After this 2017 AO, you can't make the argument anymore.

Federer is the toughest mentally in history.
RG13 Nadal came back in the 5th set.
 

xFedal

Legend
Not that I disagree, but why is Djokovic mentally tougher necessarily? He lost many important slam matches to Murray, Stan and Nishikori.
Djokovic is extremely resilient player, Best at saving match points/best front runner/best at deciding sets/ these are some categories Djok is better than others at..... Nadals mental toughness is eroding away quickly.... Fogini loss when leading 2 sets and choking pouile match away, also choking away ao17 final.... Federer lost many close finals.... isn't that good at deciding sets or match points or 5th set record..
 

-NN-

G.O.A.T.
Djokovic is extremely resilient player, Best at saving match points/best front runner/best at deciding sets/ these are some categories Djok is better than others at..... Nadals mental toughness is eroding away quickly.... Fogini loss when leading 2 sets and choking pouile match away, also choking away ao17 final.... Federer lost many close finals.... isn't that good at deciding sets or match points or 5th set record..

We will learn more about Djokovic's overall mental toughness over the next couple of years. I think he'll rebound but it's not guaranteed. We don't know if he'll show the same perseverance and dedication yet as Rafa and especially Roger has.

**

Nadal's shield is incredible and so is his sword on breakpoints, but for most of the 5th set he depended on his shield. Bringing out the sword only on "clutch" points wasn't enough. Federer rode his sword and attacked for the entire set through to victory. His strikes and stabs were incisive. In fairness, Federer's strikes and stabs were so lethal that it was hard for Nadal to attack with his sword even if he'd have wanted to. Shield mental strength creates illusions more readily than Sword mental strength.

#facts
 
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Russeljones

Talk Tennis Guru
Federer lost many close finals.... isn't that good at deciding sets or match points or 5th set record..
This is plain wrong.

Federer has been in many sets and matches that he made look close, whereas others would have lost in much more straightforward fashion. Only here is this brought up to his detriment.

And about deciding sets, lol..
 

xFedal

Legend
We will learn more about Djokovic's overall mental toughness over the next couple of years. I think he'll rebound but it's not guaranteed. We don't know if he'll show the same perseverance and dedication yet as Rafa and especially Roger has.
True, it'd say a lot of about his mental toughness and form if he rebounds back at IW!
 

xFedal

Legend
This is plain wrong.

Federer has been in many sets and matches that he made look close, whereas others would have lost in much more straightforward fashion. Only here is this brought up to his detriment.

And about deciding sets, lol..
Deciding sets is also a weakness for Fed over the years, players know if they can push Fed for long enough their chances of winning increase...
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Deciding sets is also a weakness for Fed over the years, players know if they can push Fed for long enough their chances of winning increase...
Answer me one thing. What is better? To lose relatively easily or to fight to the end and lose in 5? Because Djokovic lost only 1 slam final in 5 sets. He lost the other 8 in less than that. Federer losing more slam finals in 5 sets simply shows that he was much harder to put away than Djokovic. So who showed more mental toughness? Djokovic who lost in 3-4 sets or Federer who lost in 5?
 

-NN-

G.O.A.T.
Answer me one thing. What is better? To lose relatively easily or to fight to the end and lose in 5? Because Djokovic lost only 1 slam final in 5 sets. He lost the other 8 in less than that. Federer losing more slam finals in 5 sets simply shows that he was much harder to put away than Djokovic. So who showed more mental toughness? Djokovic who lost in 3-4 sets or Federer who lost in 5?

Don't know. That might be more down to skill and/or form than mental strength. Federer has a much better record then Djokovic in Slam finals and his ratio is about the same as Nadal's who is considered to have better mental strength than Federer. Hard to reduce it. I can say what I see with the naked eye which is that on balance Djokovic and Nadal play the "clutch" points more reliably than Federer but a) dunno if the stats back this up and b) it might just be a product of individual game style than anything truly mental.

Complicated topic.

Generally, all these great champions are mentally very strong. What defines most of the record between them once they've matured physically and mentally is form and match-up. They will be close in skills and mental strength but the match-up of those skills will tip the balance in one way or the other between the two equally matched legends. The inherent match-up disadvantage which was demonstrated in the very early days of the Fedal rivalry means that the balance tips more often in Rafa's favour, and that usually form does not override the match-up dynamics between them. It's easy to look mentally weaker when you are disadvantaged in the first place, because one must then climb higher. Federer's backhand functioning as well as it did in the final set the platform for him to let mental strength make the difference in the end, as he confirmed his skill superiority on the day and went out to really win the match in the 5th, rather than just survive.
 
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xFedal

Legend
Answer me one thing. What is better? To lose relatively easily or to fight to the end and lose in 5? Because Djokovic lost only 1 slam final in 5 sets. He lost the other 8 in less than that. Federer losing more slam finals in 5 sets simply shows that he was much harder to put away than Djokovic. So who showed more mental toughness? Djokovic who lost in 3-4 sets or Federer who lost in 5?
Which Final did Djokovic lose in 5 sets and to whom? Loss is loss some like to go home to fight another day then to go out all 2012AO!
 

xFedal

Legend
Don't know. That might be more down to skill and/or form than mental strength. Federer has a much better record then Djokovic in Slam finals and his ratio is about the same as Nadal's who is considered to have better mental strength than Federer. Hard to reduce it. I can say what I see with the naked eye which is that on balance Djokovic and Nadal play the "clutch" points more reliably than Federer but a) dunno if the stats back this up and b) it might just be a product of individual game style than anything truly mental.

Complicated topic.
Yes your right, clutch points, break points, Match points, coming back from set down, doing it against atg players, DjokDal are better than Fed.... Fed is probably better at Tie breaks and Nadal percentage is sinking over the years.... Federer has been a very good front runner over the years probably better than Nadal?
 

Urkezi

Semi-Pro
Answer me one thing. What is better? To lose relatively easily or to fight to the end and lose in 5? Because Djokovic lost only 1 slam final in 5 sets. He lost the other 8 in less than that. Federer losing more slam finals in 5 sets simply shows that he was much harder to put away than Djokovic. So who showed more mental toughness? Djokovic who lost in 3-4 sets or Federer who lost in 5?

This reminds me so much of that debate where Nadal has a "better GS finals record" and is "more clutch" because he made so many less finals on his worse surfaces.

I always believed that this mental toughness goes hand in hand with form and confidence. When you are on, you tend to take matters in your own hands and make your own luck on clutch points. When you are not in that mindframe, you play it safe and let the other guy decide - which is usually a bad call, especially if you are Federer and the other guys are Robot Nole or The Original Wall Nadal.

I was always shocked how Roger was supposed to be mentally weak, when he won his first 7 GS finals, 10/11, 12/14 and 16/22 at exact same age that Nole is now.
 

ramy

New User
Federer is the toughest mentally in history.

Any mental stability depends on your skills.
Nole does not face any mental problems against Rafa because he has the all solutions .
when Federer had that strong BH and serve return ( specially to return Rafa's wide serve on the Adv. court ).
Then he was so quiet whatever any early break .
 

-NN-

G.O.A.T.
Yes your right, clutch points, break points, Match points, coming back from set down, doing it against atg players, DjokDal are better than Fed.... Fed is probably better at Tie breaks and Nadal percentage is sinking over the years.... Federer has been a very good front runner over the years probably better than Nadal?

I don't really know. Federer has come down a lot from 2-0 down.. I think 10 times. I imagine that all these guys are great frontrunners really, and that it declines as they get older (from prime/peak/whatever) and that their records will be similar. But Federer's style tends to be good for getting off to fast starts whereas Nadal (maybe Djokovic) often resist an onslaught before wresting control of matches, at the micro level.

Mental strength is just the effect of the causes of form and match-up. Fed's backhand is functioning super well against Nadal, Fed suddenly looks like a mental giant. Federer went ape in set 5 and Nadal really just tried to survive. His resistance on break points was clutch but his overall mental approach to the last set was inferior to Federer's, but I think it was harder for him to be stronger than Federer that day because Federer was better. If you are better you are more likely to look mentally tougher.
 

xFedal

Legend
I don't really know. Federer has come down a lot from 2-0 down.. I think 10 times. I imagine that all these guys are great frontrunners really, and that it declines as they get older (from prime/peak/whatever) and that their records will be similar. But Federer's style tends to be good for getting off to fast starts whereas Nadal (maybe Djokovic) often resist an onslaught before wresting control of matches, at the micro level.
No go to pressure stats, and confirm it.
 

-NN-

G.O.A.T.
No go to pressure stats, and confirm it.

Are their frontrunning stats etc? I agree with you on all the other stuff you said and was just commenting on the Fed being a better frontrunner than Nadal comment. I updated my post BTW. I know that Djokovic pulled back 1-0 set leads to Federer one too many times.
 

xFedal

Legend
Are their frontrunning stats etc? I agree with you on all the other stuff you said and was just commenting on the Fed being a better frontrunner than Nadal comment. I updated my post BTW.
Yes, how many times you have lost a match when leading a set! When leading 2 sets and when leading 2 sets to 1.... I'd get them for you hold on....

Fed is 981-71 (93%) when he won 1st set!
Fed is at 297-4 (99%) when leading 2 sets.
Fed is at 84-10 (89%) When leading 2 sets to 1.!

Nadal is 727-42 (95%) when he won 1st set!
Nadal is at 178-2 (99%) when leading 2 sets.
Nadal is at 58-4 (94%) When leading 2 sets to 1.

Novak is at 672-24 (97%) When he won 1st set!
Novak is at 183-1 (99%) When leading 2 sets!
Novak is at 70-6 (92%) When leading 2 sets to 1!
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
This reminds me so much of that debate where Nadal has a "better GS finals record" and is "more clutch" because he made so many less finals on his worse surfaces.

I always believed that this mental toughness goes hand in hand with form and confidence. When you are on, you tend to take matters in your own hands and make your own luck on clutch points. When you are not in that mindframe, you play it safe and let the other guy decide - which is usually a bad call, especially if you are Federer and the other guys are Robot Nole or The Original Wall Nadal.

I was always shocked how Roger was supposed to be mentally weak, when he won his first 7 GS finals, 10/11, 12/14 and 16/22 at exact same age that Nole is now.
First 24 finals too. ;)
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Yes your right, clutch points, break points, Match points, coming back from set down, doing it against atg players, DjokDal are better than Fed.... Fed is probably better at Tie breaks and Nadal percentage is sinking over the years.... Federer has been a very good front runner over the years probably better than Nadal?
Why necessarily ATG players? So Djokovic is excused for losing to Stan, Murray and Nishikori because they aren't all time greats?
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
I don't really know. Federer has come down a lot from 2-0 down.. I think 10 times. I imagine that all these guys are great frontrunners really, and that it declines as they get older (from prime/peak/whatever) and that their records will be similar. But Federer's style tends to be good for getting off to fast starts whereas Nadal (maybe Djokovic) often resist an onslaught before wresting control of matches, at the micro level.

Mental strength is just the effect of the causes of form and match-up. Fed's backhand is functioning super well against Nadal, Fed suddenly looks like a mental giant. Federer went ape in set 5 and Nadal really just tried to survive. His resistance on break points was clutch but his overall mental approach to the last set was inferior to Federer's, but I think it was harder for him to be stronger than Federer that day because Federer was better. If you are better you are more likely to look mentally tougher.
One thing impressed me though at a Federer loss. Wimb 2008 final. The way Fed crawled his way back into that match by winning tiebreaks no less was super impressive. He lost, but many other players would have lost in less than 5, including Djokovic and Nadal.
 

xFedal

Legend
Why necessarily ATG players? So Djokovic is excused for losing to Stan, Murray and Nishikori because they aren't all time greats?
His done it most against his rivals than they have.... Nadal is slightly ahead against the field.... Fed clearly the worst in this regard.
 

-NN-

G.O.A.T.
One thing impressed me though at a Federer loss. Wimb 2008 final. The way Fed crawled his way back into that match by winning tiebreaks no less was super impressive. He lost, but many other players would have lost in less than 5, including Djokovic and Nadal.

Also a great example of Nadal on "clutch" points. Federer had the first BP chance IIRC in set 5, and Nadal was merciless with a serve-forehand combo, forcing a forced short FH lob from Federer which Nadal smashed away. All that after having been pegged back from his commanding 2-0 lead, potentially on the precipice of defeat.
 
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