What happened to Nadal's mental strength?

victorcruz

Hall of Fame
It was so disappointing seeing him get broken back at love when he was serving for the match.

He doesn't win long rallies against many players anymore. It's why he had to change his game to end them quicker, and even though he had beaten Med 3 times already, the last 2 were nailbiters to the end. Med just gets almost everything back into play. I believe he will start beating Rafa as well.

Nadal's dominance on the youngins (Thiem, Med, Zed, Tsitsi) might be strictly Tsitsipas going forward. He's lost his last 2 against Thiem, last 2 against Zed and now Med beat him. He's still an easy favorite at RG but he is beatabull at the other 3.
 

weakera

Legend
He's still an easy favorite at RG but he is beatabull at the other 3.

Same as his entire career, as is losing at WTF.

No denying NextGen is better than ever, but the Nadal narrative hasn't changed. If anything he's more consistent than ever - this was his best Bercy-WTF result since 2013.
 

Krish0608

Hall of Fame
Has definitely been more tentative closing out sets/matches the past couple of years. Would you ever expect Rafa in his prime serving for the match and then going on to lose out eventually?
But this started happening more often to Federer as well in his mid 30s. Lost a step, second guessed himself more and as a result started to lose it, in key moments. This trend will not be reversed unfortunately. You cannot fight time.
 

Patogen

New User
Well, physically, in terms of speed and stamina, he looked pretty bad even at FO. So he was not in the best shape achievable atm, let alone the best shape of his life. And, of course, with bad shape comes laziness. And the dangerous idea the opponent is finished before they really are becomes very, very attractive, even for a pro of his calibre who knows just how dangerous complacency could be. If you fall for it and cling to it, opponents not letting go and taking dvantage of complacency can have a devastating effect. And it did yesterday.

Also, I believe that this being the semis played a part. Nadal damn well knew that should he somehow grind through this jam filled with nasty debris, facing Thiem on a roll just a couple of hours later will be too much anyway. So why bother? For the sake of maintaining a 100% H2H against the guy who is not a threat on clay anyway?

On a general note, Nadal lost his legs. The legs that allowed him to chase down every ball, no matter the score, which used to render his opponents tired before the matches even began, which boosted his confidence throughout the match, and provided him with the mental edge. Now he picks... his balls, heh, and while this allows him to walk the smart route on clay, it just does not get in his opponent s heads nearly as deep as the young, relentless Nadal did.

I mean, standing still, watching the ball go around you and obviously praying it goes out sends a message of vulnerability. That message reads "I am old, wrecked and about to sink. Unless you play them easier to reach, I cannot get to them and I will lose. Be kind and let the old man win."

Even Novak saw his movement deteriorate a fair bit, but his go around the court is still relatively crisp. Nadal on the other hand feels like a heavy object being shifted by an old man in garage. Slow and steady, but slow.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
Mental strength is valued too much on this board and every loss is attributed to lack of it, choking etc, Usually, the player who is better on a particular surface and has the self-belief that he should win on a particular day ends up winning as he performs better when it matters on big points. Nadal’s game is not suited to low-bouncing, fast courts especially indoors where he has not won much - so, he didn’t have the game or the self-belief to win this week against Thiem or Medvedev.

If this tournament were on clay or a slow, high-bouncing hard court, Nadal would have won and some of you would be talking about his mental strength and how the younger players are ‘weak’ because of social media and cell phones.

Also, Nadal used his BH slice too much crosscourt against Med’s FH and it disrupted his own 2HBH rhythm late in the match and Rafa lost the confidence to win from the baseline due to his many BH errors. He tried going to the net too much in the third set and Medvedev passed him easily. So, bad strategy on a surface that is not comfortable for him spelled out a loss against a player in form. Winning on a particular surface and against particular players previously breeds confidence (aka mental strength) when you face them in a match and this leads to more winning.
 
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StrongRule

G.O.A.T.
Has definitely been more tentative closing out sets/matches the past couple of years. Would you ever expect Rafa in his prime serving for the match and then going on to lose out eventually?
But this started happening more often to Federer as well in his mid 30s. Lost a step, second guessed himself more and as a result started to lose it, in key moments. This trend will not be reversed unfortunately. You cannot fight time.
Somehow Djokovic can, even though he is 33. He has a record of 15-2 in tiebreaks this year. Still mentally the strongest player. So these are just excuses.
 

Tennisbg

Semi-Pro
His decline in the last set, especially the last half of the last set, was obvious. It was looking (to me anyway) that he was in pain of some kind.
Not an excuse, but even when he was serving for the set he didn't look like he would win. I don't know what is going on with him. I guess these players are tired of playing, playing tennis professionally for 20 years is so demanding.
 

JoshuaPim

Semi-Pro
Also, I believe that this being the semis played a part. Nadal damn well knew that should he somehow grind through this jam filled with nasty debris, facing Thiem on a roll just a couple of hours later will be too much anyway. So why bother? For the sake of maintaining a 100% H2H against the guy who is not a threat on clay anyway?
This makes no sense. He would never have got to serving for the match if that was his attitude.
 

Gazelle

Legend
It's his physical strength which is naturally declining with age which is impacting everything in his game, include his mental approach. He doesn't feel he has the physical side that he had in the past anymore and it is negatively influencing him.
So his famous mental strength has been overrated all these years, as it was mainly linked to physical strength?

I think the mentally toughest must have been Sampras, physically not as imposing as Nadal, but still playing big points like a boss.
 

Gazelle

Legend
Declined proportionally to his loss of footspeed.
Don't think he has declined. Actually he has improved. It's the first time in 5 years he got to the WTF semis, and the first time since 2013 he got this close to the final.

It's scary what Nadal is going to bring next year.
 
So his famous mental strength has been overrated all these years, as it was mainly linked to physical strength?

I think the mentally toughest must have been Sampras, physically not as imposing as Nadal, but still playing big points like a boss.
Pete's ability to hold on in an equal match, or even when outplayed, is unmatched. Djokodal clutch stats are boosted big time by chokerer in particular lol...
 

Patogen

New User
This makes no sense. He would never have got to serving for the match if that was his attitude.
The failure to seal it was the starting point of the jam he would have had to grind through. Up until that point, the match came easy to him. The first set win was an anomaly in itself. Check the serve pct. stats. And Medvedev totally let him come back in the second. Not even Rafa knows how he got to serve for the match. It only really became hard right there.
 
So his famous mental strength has been overrated all these years, as it was mainly linked to physical strength?

I think the mentally toughest must have been Sampras, physically not as imposing as Nadal, but still playing big points like a boss.
Mental strenght has always been about knowing you can last physically longer than the other guy
 

Patogen

New User
Mental strenght has always been about knowing you can last physically longer than the other guy
Ability to cope with pressure in unique, high-pressure situations has very little to do with certainty of physical superiority I think. If you are playing a third set TB in the best of two match, how does knowing you can outlast someone physically help you focus on your serve? Mental strength has always been about controlling your emotions. It is mainly an inner fight.
 

Tennis_Hands

Bionic Poster
Ability to cope with pressure in unique, high-pressure situations has very little to do with certainty of physical superiority I think. If you are playing a third set TB in the best of two match, how does knowing you can outlast someone physically help you focus on your serve? Mental strength has always been about controlling your emotions. It is mainly an inner fight.

:cool:
 

Firstservingman

Talk Tennis Guru
i mean nadal has always had good mentality but you still need physical endurance as the foundation of a game like his and age-related decline is taking that away
 

StrongRule

G.O.A.T.
It's taken a huge hit.

But even now there's probably no one I'd rather have play a point for my life. Novak, maybe. But he'd probably kill me with a drop shot that doesn't even reach the net.
I guess you don't really value your life too much then. How can one prefer current Nadal (who gets tight on EVERY big point) over Djokovic who has a 15-2 tiebreak record this year?
 

Devtennis01

Hall of Fame
He's 34, been on tour nearly 2 decades. It takes its toll. He did won RG, but other than that what has he done since last year's USO? We just got to see his older, more tired, weaker self exposed by a young player fresh from winning Paris-Bercy and a former slam finalist.
This is how it should be.
RG was a freak show.
 

Beckerserve

Hall of Fame
Seriously, what happened?
Nothing mental about yesterday. His lack of indoor skills came to the fore. Principally his serve. 38 per cent 1st serves indoors will not get the job done against any top 20 player.
The FO showed he is mentally the toughest out there. He is a mediocre indoor player though compared to the best players.
 

Beckerserve

Hall of Fame
He's 34, been on tour nearly 2 decades. It takes its toll. He did won RG, but other than that what has he done since last year's USO? We just got to see his older, more tired, weaker self exposed by a young player fresh from winning Paris-Bercy and a former slam finalist.
This is how it should be.
RG was a freak show.
Actually your post illustrates how massive FO was. Had he not won that probably never gets slam record. Again in hindsight disaster for Djokovic.
 

Mivic

Rookie
Pete's ability to hold on in an equal match, or even when outplayed, is unmatched. Djokodal clutch stats are boosted big time by chokerer in particular lol...
Yeah lets just pretend that Sampras had an unwavering belief in himself that was completely independent of the fact that he had the single most potent weapon on the court each and every time he took to it. All confidence is derived and all belief is founded in one's physical and technical ability. There's no such thing as unfounded confidence. If you've never boxed before and have zero faith in your ability to defend yourself you're not going to be confident in your prospects of success stepping into a boxing ring against anybody remotely imposing. The reason that Sampras was able to maintain his level of mental strength late into his career was because his primary weapon (and therefore his source of confidence) in the serve generally deteriorates at a far slower rate than one's physicality (and in many cases it improves). If anything, Nadal's level of mental strength is more impressive given the fact that Sampras was able to eliminate and avert danger with a single swing of his racket, unlike Rafa. Ultimately, the fact that Federer wasn't able to translate his own technical superiority into success in high leverage moments is his own fault and to his discredit. Either that, or Nadal simply had more advantages to fall back on in such moments, which is a possibility that Federer fans are of course loath to consider.
 
Yeah lets just pretend that Sampras had an unwavering belief in himself that was completely independent of the fact that he had the single most potent weapon on the court each and every time he took to it. All confidence is derived and all belief is founded in one's physical and technical ability. There's no such thing as unfounded confidence. If you've never boxed before and have zero faith in your ability to defend yourself you're not going to be confident in your prospects of success stepping into a boxing ring against anybody remotely imposing. The reason that Sampras was able to maintain his level of mental strength late into his career was because his primary weapon (and therefore his source of confidence) in the serve generally deteriorates at a far slower rate than one's physicality (and in many cases it improves). If anything, Nadal's level of mental strength is more impressive given the fact that Sampras was able to eliminate and avert danger with a single swing of his racket, unlike Rafa. Ultimately, the fact that Federer wasn't able to translate his own technical superiority into success in high leverage moments is his own fault and to his discredit. Either that, or Nadal simply had more advantages to fall back on in such moments, which is a possibility that Federer fans are of course loath to consider.
Ergo, Sampras was the better technical player than those others whose game is more dependent on physicality. Hail PETE, you heathen.

Yeah yeah, been said a billion times how Fred massively undermined his talent by lack of clutch. Only reason anyone is even close to him at all.
 
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