What makes Nadal the toughest match up for the Next gen?

aman92

Hall of Fame
It seems all of the next gen - Zverev, Med, Tsitspas and Rublev (you can chuck in De Minaur as well) struggle against Nadal at least in their initial matches much more than they do against the other big boys. What is it specifically about Nadal’s game that is the cause... Is it just because of his unique style which they haven't encountered on the tour before or is there a level of fear and awe they find hard to overcome?
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
It seems all of the next gen - Zverev, Med, Tsitspas and Rublev (you can chuck in De Minaur as well) struggle against Nadal at least in their initial matches much more than they do against the other big boys. What is it specifically about Nadal’s game that is the cause... Is it just because of his unique style which they haven't encountered on the tour before or is there a level of fear and awe they find hard to overcome?
Z had MP vs Nadal in their first match at IW. Blew it with a simple missed volley.
Took him to 5 sets in their 2nd match at AO in 2017.
So take out Z from that list - considering its not really a struggle here.

Medvedev got shellacked in his first match vs Nadal, first masters final, then took Nadal to 5 sets at USO and then choked horrifically vs Nadal in the final set of YEC 2019.
Fed lost 2nd set 4-6 to med at 18 shanghai, taking match in 3 sets. But beat him comfortably at Basel 18(1 and 4), Miami 19 (4,2). More issues vs fed than vs Nadal. So Med goes out of that list as well.

Tsitsipas is one valid case. This is a probably a combo of the lefty-righty and some nerves

Rublev Djokovic haven't even played. But yeah, Rublev sucked in their 2017 USO match and doesn't seem to have done well in their YEC match yesterday by any means either. Just not good enough?
 

StrongRule

G.O.A.T.
Z had MP vs Nadal in their first match at IW. Blew it with a simple missed volley.
Took him to 5 sets in their 2nd match at AO in 2017.
So take out Z from that list - considering its not really a struggle here.

Medvedev got shellacked in his first match vs Nadal, first masters final, then took Nadal to 5 sets at USO and then choked horrifically vs Nadal in the final set of YEC 2019.
Fed lost 2nd set 4-6 to med at 18 shanghai, taking match in 3 sets. But beat him comfortably at Basel 18(1 and 4), Miami 19 (4,2). More issues vs fed than vs Nadal. So Med goes out of that list as well.

Tsitsipas is one valid case. This is a probably a combo of the lefty-righty and some nerves

Rublev Djokovic haven't even played. But yeah, Rublev sucked in their 2017 USO match and doesn't seem to have done well in their YEC match yesterday by any means either. Just not good enough?
Medvedev was in the best form of his life after Wimbledon 2019, so no surprise he gave Nadal a big fight in USO final. It had nothing to do with matchup issues, and it's kind of a joke to compare that to Federer beating Med in 2018 and early 2019.

Zverev is indeed a nightmare matchup for Nadal, but he isn't easy for Federer as well.
 

MeatTornado

G.O.A.T.
Medvedev was in the best form of his life after Wimbledon 2019, so no surprise he gave Nadal a big fight in USO final. It had nothing to do with matchup issues, and it's kind of a joke to compare that to Federer beating Med in 2018 and early 2019.
The only surprise was Nadal making it to that final considering he was in the WORST form of his life at the time.

Overcoming Berretini in the semi-finals was the greatest underdog triumph of his life
 

CHillTennis

Semi-Pro
It seems all of the next gen - Zverev, Med, Tsitspas and Rublev (you can chuck in De Minaur as well) struggle against Nadal at least in their initial matches much more than they do against the other big boys. What is it specifically about Nadal’s game that is the cause... Is it just because of his unique style which they haven't encountered on the tour before or is there a level of fear and awe they find hard to overcome?
Nadal plays a more physical game than Federer or Djokovic.

I think it's hard for most players (including the Next Gen guys) to hit through someone like Nadal for three or four hours.

He's also very tough in the big moments and that shows in his record against them.

.
 

Rosstour

Legend
Tennis is a mental game, Nadal believes in himself above all else, never beats himself, doesn't get intimidated by the moment.

And if he does, he just calls an MTO and the younger guy goes ice cold.
 

socallefty

Legend
Nadal never lets down his intensity and fights for every point and is a phenomenal baseline defender. The NextGen guys have struggled to keep their intensity high throughout a match and I think they can‘t match his mental focus over an entire match.

Djokovic has been prone to mental ups and downs in his matches in the last few years and is vulnerable to falling behind a break in a set after a loose game or two. Many of these young guys have 130+ mph serves where they can coast on their serve to win a set once up a break. Once they win a set, their confidence gets boosted and they have been able to steal some victories over him.

With Federer getting into his late thirties, his base level is not better than many of them anymore, especially on slower surfaces and he needs to be in very good form to win 2-3 tough matches in a row. It will likely be even more difficult after his latest knee surgeries.
 

MichaelNadal

Bionic Poster
Nadal plays a more physical game than Federer or Djokovic.

I think it's hard for most players (including the Next Gen guys) to hit through someone like Nadal for three or four hours.

He's also very tough in the big moments and that shows in his record against them.

.
This. You better have 3 tanks of gas. Which is also the reason Djokovic matches up well against him, unlimited tanks.
 

clout

Hall of Fame
Z had MP vs Nadal in their first match at IW. Blew it with a simple missed volley.
Took him to 5 sets in their 2nd match at AO in 2017.
So take out Z from that list - considering its not really a struggle here.

Medvedev got shellacked in his first match vs Nadal, first masters final, then took Nadal to 5 sets at USO and then choked horrifically vs Nadal in the final set of YEC 2019.
Fed lost 2nd set 4-6 to med at 18 shanghai, taking match in 3 sets. But beat him comfortably at Basel 18(1 and 4), Miami 19 (4,2). More issues vs fed than vs Nadal. So Med goes out of that list as well.

Tsitsipas is one valid case. This is a probably a combo of the lefty-righty and some nerves

Rublev Djokovic haven't even played. But yeah, Rublev sucked in their 2017 USO match and doesn't seem to have done well in their YEC match yesterday by any means either. Just not good enough?
Well Med-Fed haven't matched up since the Russian broke through in summer 2019 so those wins came before Med was a top player.

Also, Zverev's 2 wins against Rafa came on Rafa's weakest surface (indoor hard). Zverev also ran into elbowvic and backerer in Rome and Montreal, respectively, so he's mostly beaten subpar versions of the big 3.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Well Med-Fed haven't matched up since the Russian broke through in summer 2019 so those wins came before Med was a top player.

Also, Zverev's 2 wins against Rafa came on Rafa's weakest surface (indoor hard). Zverev also ran into elbowvic and backerer in Rome and Montreal, respectively, so he's mostly beaten subpar versions of the big 3.
Fair point re: fed-mad lad though @Meles would claim med broke through in 18.

Djoko had absolutely crushed Thiem in Rome 17 semi. He just came out flat vs Z in the final. Not a question of elbow problems in that final.

Z beat fed&djoko b2b in yec 18 SF/F - his finest achievement.

Even if Z's 2 wins vs Nadal came on indoor hard, he already played him tough on outdoor HC in their first 2 matches (MP in iw16 and 5 sets in AO 17). So not really a question of Z matching up badly with him.
 

clout

Hall of Fame
Fair point re: fed-mad lad though @Meles would claim med broke through in 18.

Djoko had absolutely crushed Thiem in Rome 17 semi. He just came out flat vs Z in the final. Not a question of elbow problems in that final.

Z beat fed&djoko b2b in yec 18 SF/F - his finest achievement.

Even if Z's 2 wins vs Nadal came on indoor hard, he already played him tough on outdoor HC in their first 2 matches (MP in iw16 and 5 sets in AO 17). So not really a question of Z matching up badly with him.
Rome 2018 was a very close encounter between Rafa/Zed as well so yeah Zverev probably has the least trouble with the big 3 among the young guys. Djokovic was very far from his best in Rome 2017 though, beating 2017 Nole is like beating 2015 Nadal.

I'll give him WTF 2018 for sure, that was extremely impressive.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
Nadal plays a very high margin game, and the most important thing involved in beating him is maintaining a very consistent level of play.

The younger and less experienced you are, the harder that is to do.
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
Fair point re: fed-mad lad though @Meles would claim med broke through in 18.

Djoko had absolutely crushed Thiem in Rome 17 semi. He just came out flat vs Z in the final. Not a question of elbow problems in that final.

Z beat fed&djoko b2b in yec 18 SF/F - his finest achievement.

Even if Z's 2 wins vs Nadal came on indoor hard, he already played him tough on outdoor HC in their first 2 matches (MP in iw16 and 5 sets in AO 17). So not really a question of Z matching up badly with him.
I think Fed creams Med in straight sets if both are playing well.

The scary thing about Med is my 2018 call was based on stats and his Tokyo steamroll of draw with serve, but it was a massively improved return game that fueled 2019. They worked on Med's serve game during the pause in play and he had great serve stats at US Open with no lost sets until the SF with Thiem where he could have easily won in straight sets, but just lost to more experienced player.

Djoko victory over Thiem in Rome 2017 obviously was a false dawn if ever there was one. Kind of hilarious people on here say Nadal was tired in Rome when Thiem beat him, but Thiem was with him in finals of Barcelona and Madrid that year so very similar amount of play. And yet when Thiem wins that match and goes belly up in the SF with Nole well that was a real victory.:-D:-D:-D

I've given up analyzying Zverev, but its safe to say he's massively underperforming due to the 2nd serve issues going on since the end of 2017.
 

Shaj

Semi-Pro
Thats because..

Almost every other player on Tour now or atleast the Top Guys are basically the CLone of Djokovic. Incredible baseliner, solid, never misses, great serve and so on. Or so they have modelled their game on Novak.

So when Novak goes to play these players its like he is playing a Clone of themselves, and there is no secret in Novaks game for them because of that. And Novak being a Rightie is not an unusual circumstances for them to face him. His best shot Forehand goes to their best shot Forehand.Its just no mystery.

So even When they play Fed, they tend to do well.

Now when you are playing Nadal, He brings that altogether different angle being a leftie, and its not easy at all, facing a Topspinnned shot on your shoulderheight at Backhand. They just havent been prepared for this.

Plus Novak and Roger are more moodier than Nadal, Novak tend to throw a bad game when a Grand Slam is far awary like at Toronto or the sunshine Masters.. But Nadal is always on his highest intensity at every tournament.

But now these guys are figuring out Nadal quickly and even he has declined somewhat.. Med got his first victory , Zverev has won twice over him
 
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