What will always work for Nadal in the debate...

GabeT

G.O.A.T.
Most surface dominant player of all time without question. I don’t think he’s anywhere near as balanced as Federer and Djokovic though. This is shown through weeks at number 1 and diversity in titles won.
Agree. Nadal dominates one surface in a way no other player dominates any other surface. Don’t think anyone will ever challenge that record.

but both Fed and Novak have better records than Nadal outside of clay.
 

WhiskeyEE

G.O.A.T.
Nadal hasn't beat Novak or Federer on hard court or grass since 2014 AO.

They have both recently beat him on 2/3 surfaces.

Novak has beaten Nadal 4 times on clay since the last time he lost to him off clay.

Most of Nadal's wins over Federer off clay were thanks to Federer playing with ancient technology.
 
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Bartelby

Bionic Poster
This is an argument that is quite fallacious. You've merely taken what Nadal is best at and made that one side of a dichotomy. Given his success on clay that makes any comparison invidious.

If we say clay is one quarter of tennis then you are suggesting that whoever is best in that quarter is best overall. Do you see the problem?

All one can really say is that Nadal dominates his favoured surface more than the other players dominate theirs.

Is that he did damage to Federer and Djokovic off clay in a way they couldn't replicate against him on clay.This is and will remain a strong argument in his favor.
 

Antonio Puente

Hall of Fame
Most surface dominant player of all time without question. I don’t think he’s anywhere near as balanced as Federer and Djokovic though.
Surface distribution of slams:

Djoker - 67% HC, 28% grass, 5% clay

Nadal - 65 % clay, 25 % HC, 10 % grass

It's about the same.

When it comes to slam distribution, Djoker has two more slams outside the AO than Nadal has outside of RG. When you are talking 20, 21 slams and beyond, that's nothing.

Djoker, the HC GOAT, also has a losing record in slam finals at one of the HC slams. If there were a second clay slam, you could bet your existence Nadal wouldn't have a losing slam finals record at it.
 
Is that he did damage to Federer and Djokovic off clay in a way they couldn't replicate against him on clay.This is and will remain a strong argument in his favor.
Forget doing damage to them on clay. He did damage to them on every surface that they couldn't replicate on that surface. I'll focus just on their Wimbledon matches:

2006 v Federer. Baby Nadal takes on absolute peak Federer on Federer's favorite surface and despite a massive scheduling disadvantage. Baby Nadal still plays Federer evenly for most of the match. Moral victor: Nadal.

2007 v Djokovic. Nadal is so dominant that Djokovic wimps out of finishing the match. Moral victor: Nadal.

2007 v Federer. Even worse scheduling favoritism than the previous year, and Nadal still goes unbroken from midway through the first set until midway through the fifth. ROTFL if you deny that Nadal would have won easily were he given a fair amount of rest. Moral victor: Nadal.

2008 v Federer. Nadal destroys the supposed goat in his own home in a five-set demolition. Moral victor: Nadal.

2011 v Djokovic. Nadal is struggling with the injury he picked up against Del Potro, and still breadsticks absolute peak Djokovic. Moral victor: Nadal.

2018 v Djokovic. Roofgate. Nuff said. Moral victor: Nadal.

2019 v Federer. Besides the bread stick, what worth is narrowly avoiding choking the semi-final if you're going to go on and choke the final? Moral victor: Nadal.

As you see, his real head-to-head record against Federer is 4-0 and against Djokovic it is 3-0.
 
Djoker, the HC GOAT, also has a losing record in slam finals at one of the HC slams. If there were a second clay slam, you could bet your existence Nadal wouldn't have a losing slam finals record at it.
The conditions at the AO and the USO are quite different. So, we have to imagine a second clay-court Slam that plays rather differently than Roland Garros. Perhaps, like Madrid, it's at altitude. Perhaps it's on green clay. Perhaps, like Hamburg, it's by the sea and is much cooler. Either way, it's played in conditions that aren't anywhere near as suitable to Nadal's game. There's every chance he'd have a losing record in the final of such an event.
 

Winner

Semi-Pro
but both Fed and Novak have better records than Nadal outside of clay.
I think no sane Nadalfan would say otherwise. Of course Fedovic >> Nadal outside clay. But for me it's to simple to say Hardcourt 2/3 tour, clay 1/3 tour (roughly, yes grass as well), so the hardcourt greats > clay greats. Nadal's dominance on clay is so ridiculous. I mean, he's won more clay majors than both Djokovic and Federer won on hardcourt each (Djokovic 12, Federer 11) and Fedovic on grass combined (13, tie with Claydal). Off his best surface, he matches Djokovic in slams (Djokovic 5 Wimby, 1 RG = 6 majors; Nadal 4 USO, 2 Wimby = 6 majors (+ 1 AO)).

The three of them are that great it's impossible to crown a GOAT after retirement.
 
Stop lumping in the US Open with the Australian. They’re two completely different types of hardcourt. 65% of Nadal’s slams are at 1 of the 4 majors.
Hence my point about how unfair it would be if there were a second clay court Slam that played just like Roland Garros. If there were a second clay court Slam, it should play very differently to Roland Garros. I said above that it could be on green clay, or at altitude, or in a wet, cold seaside town. But, hell, it could be on blue clay for all I care. It would be much fairer for it to play like Madrid 2012 than like Roland Garros.
 

Bartelby

Bionic Poster
They may be two different types of hardcourt, but lawn tennis is no longer played as it was but clay more or less is.

Dominating the most distinctive suface has proved a good strategy even if it means your performance elsewhere is great but not greatest of all time.

Stop lumping in the US Open with the Australian. They’re two completely different types of hardcourt. 65% of Nadal’s slams are at 1 of the 4 majors.
 

Bartelby

Bionic Poster
To say, however, that one is peculiarly good at clay in a way that the two others are not on their favourite surfaces would seem undeniable.

Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are the only 3 players in history to have reached the finals of every slam at least 5 times each.

So to say that one of them is a one-trick pony or not an all-surface player is laughable.
 

Ray Mercer

Hall of Fame
To say, however, that one is peculiarly good at clay in a way that the two others are not on their favourite surfaces would seem undeniable.
Federer has won Wimbledon 8 times and lost 4 finals, 3 of which were 5 set nail biters against ATG’s a lot younger than him. Djokovic has won 9 Australian Open titles. That is not quite at Nadal’s level of dominance but is still dominance.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Nadal hasn't beat Novak or Federer on hard court or grass since 2014 AO.

They have both recently beat him on 2/3 surfaces.

Novak has beaten Nadal 4 times on clay since the last time he lost to him off clay.

Most of Nadal's wins over Federer off clay were thanks to Federer playing with ancient technology.
Bolded: well, that's Federer's fault. It was his choice to be so stubborn, thinking he didn't need to revamp his game for just one guy.

And besides, give Nadal some credit. He was always gonna beat Fed off clay a few times.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
Even if there is a player someday who dominates the tour for 10-12 years and breaks the all-time Slam title record established by one of the Big 3, I suspect that he will not be able to dominate one surface like Nadal has dominated clay. His FO Slam record of 13 title (likely to finish at 15 or above) might be the unbeatable record for the sport - not to mention three other clay tournaments with double-digit titles. Even writing down his clay accomplishments makes you realize how unbelievable they are.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
I don’t understand why Djokovic winning 12 hard court Slams and Federer wining 11 hardcourt Slams is not considered a poor achievement for supposedly hard court GOATs when there are two Slams on that surface every year. Compare it to the Clay GOAT who has won 13 Slams on his favored surface Slam even though there is only Slam on it. Nadal has won 5 hard court Slams on his 2nd favorite surface while Djokovic also has won 5 Slams on grass which is his second favorite surface - doesn’t seem different unless you take the same distinction into account that grass has only 1 Slam a year which makes 5 Wimbledons more special. Federer is the only one with a truly more balanced Slam title record on two surfaces with 11 hard court Slams and 8 Wimbledons, but his tepid head-head record against both his rivals makes it hard to think that he might be better than them. On his third best surface, Nadal has two Wimbledons on grass while Djokovic and Federer have only 1 clay Slam each.
 
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Ray Mercer

Hall of Fame
Federer is 6 years older than Djokovic and was far ahead in the head to head until he started to slip from the baseline. He won their first 3 US Open encounters and barely lost the next 2. He didn’t get to meet Djokovic at Wimbledon until 2012. If he gets him from 2006-2009 he tears him apart. He also won their fist Australian Open encounter in straights and took down Djokovic at the French in his best career year. That head to head only evened up because Fed continues to play until the age of 40.

As far as Nadal is concerned ever since Federer upgraded his racquet technology to make his backhand more steady he has ripped Nadal apart off clay. Nadal’s entire strategy was based upon pounding Federer’s backhand looking for shanks and short replies from his small racquet. Once that strategy was negated he was completely clueless. The Indian Wells and Shanghai beatings were ruthless. Nadal will never be as good of a first strike player as Federer.
 

WhiskeyEE

G.O.A.T.
Please elaborate this.
Federer can handle Nadal's topspin -> backhand a lot better with a 97 sq in racquet than he could with his old 90. He would shank like every third backhand drive. He used to like to slice high balls on that side, but that's suicide against Nadal.

The only match Nadal ever won off clay when Federer used the 97 was one of his very first tournaments using it.

Old Fedal matches were like a champion kickboxer vs a wrestler in the UFC. The wrestler just takes down the kickboxer and then none of his skills matter. Same thing with old Fedal matches and topspin -> backhand. Upgrading his racquet (and backhand drive) was like a kickboxer learning takedown defense.
 
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socallefty

Hall of Fame
Federer can handle Nadal's topspin -> backhand a lot better with a 97 sq in racquet than he could with his old 90. He would shank like every third backhand drive. He used to like to slice high balls on that side, but that's suicide against Nadal.

The only match Nadal ever won off clay when Federer used the 97 was one of his very first tournaments using it.

Old Fedal matches were like a champion kickboxer vs a wrestler in the UFC. The wrestler just takes down the kickboxer and then none of his skills matter. Same thing with old Fedal matches and topspin -> backhand. Upgrading his racquet (and backhand drive) was like a kickboxer learning takedown defense.
Is this Nadal’s problem or Federer’s fault? Just like Sampras was an idiot who didn’t change to poly strings and instead retired because he could not stay on top against young guys who played with poly. Federer had success against the non-ATGs of his time playing with a small racquet, but it cost him against Nadal for sure and he waited too long to switch after almost all other players had switched to 95-98 sq inch racquets.
 

topher

Professional
Federer can handle Nadal's topspin -> backhand a lot better with a 97 sq in racquet than he could with his old 90. He would shank like every third backhand drive. He used to like to slice high balls on that side, but that's suicide against Nadal.

The only match Nadal ever won off clay when Federer used the 97 was one of his very first tournaments using it.

Old Fedal matches were like a champion kickboxer vs a wrestler in the UFC. The wrestler just takes down the kickboxer and then none of his skills matter. Same thing with old Fedal matches and topspin -> backhand. Upgrading his racquet (and backhand drive) was like a kickboxer learning takedown defense.
So basically Rog switched racquets when, around end of 2013? He played and lost to Rafa in 2014 AO, which apparently doesn’t count.

However every other match has taken place in or after 2015, when Rafa’s form and speed fell off a cliff. Credit to Roger for adjusting but to compare his wins against post 2015 Rafa to playing against peak Rafa is a bad comparison.

Besides, Roger’s racquet was only one of several issues he had with Rafa. Roger’s stubborn insistence on coming into the net too often against the best passing shot in the game being one that had zero to do with his racquet. His unwillingness to hedge or step in to the backhand side of Rafa’s lefty serve being another.

This is also to ignore how the change has nerfed Roger’s GOAT forehand somewhat, who is to say what matches he would’ve lost due to that change even were he to win some more against Rafa.
 

Rosstour

Legend
Is that he did damage to Federer and Djokovic off clay in a way they couldn't replicate against him on clay.This is and will remain a strong argument in his favor.
It gets weaker the longer they all play, though.

Nadal's dominance of those guys off clay only lasted from 2008/9 to 2014.

Since then, he's been a hard & grass pigeon for both of them.

These guys are all going to have 20+ year windows of contending for Slams, so a five-year slice of that is not an entire career.
 

ForehandRF

Hall of Fame
It gets weaker the longer they all play, though.

Nadal's dominance of those guys off clay only lasted from 2008/9 to 2014.

Since then, he's been a hard & grass pigeon for both of them.

These guys are all going to have 20+ year windows of contending for Slams, so a five-year slice of that is not an entire career.
Yeah, but the point still stands, even if we like it or not.Djokovic lost more often than not in their USO meetings, so did Federer at the AO, then they both failed at the French.Fed even lost that damn 2008 Wimbledon Final.He rised to the occasion and finished the job, even though Fedovic are better hardcourt and grass court players overall.
 
It gets weaker the longer they all play, though.

Nadal's dominance of those guys off clay only lasted from 2008/9 to 2014.

Since then, he's been a hard & grass pigeon for both of them.

These guys are all going to have 20+ year windows of contending for Slams, so a five-year slice of that is not an entire career.
And both of them are Rafa's pigeons on clay. SHUT UP.
 

The_Order

G.O.A.T.
This is an argument that is quite fallacious. You've merely taken what Nadal is best at and made that one side of a dichotomy. Given his success on clay that makes any comparison invidious.

If we say clay is one quarter of tennis then you are suggesting that whoever is best in that quarter is best overall. Do you see the problem?

All one can really say is that Nadal dominates his favoured surface more than the other players dominate theirs.
That's a lot of words just to say nothing....
 

ForehandRF

Hall of Fame
I don’t understand why Djokovic winning 12 hard court Slams and Federer wining 11 hardcourt Slams is not considered a poor achievement for supposedly hard court GOATs when there are two Slams on that surface every year. Compare it to the Clay GOAT who has won 13 Slams on his favored surface Slam even though there is only Slam on it. Nadal has won 5 hard court Slams on his 2nd favorite surface while Djokovic also has won 5 Slams on grass which is his second favorite surface - doesn’t seem different unless you take the same distinction into account that grass has only 1 Slam a year which makes 5 Wimbledons more special. Federer is the only one with a truly more balanced Slam title record on two surfaces with 11 hard court Slams and 8 Wimbledons, but his tepid head-head record against both his rivals makes it hard to think that he might be better than them. On his third best surface, Nadal has two Wimbledons on grass while Djokovic and Federer have only 1 clay Slam each.
Bolded -> I have to disagree here and that's because hardcourts are the hardest to dominate.Being the prevalent surface on the tour, players have their games built for it, hence the competition is more diverse and stronger than on grass and clay.That being said, I don't think it is fair to use that argument against Fedovic, not to mention that the AO and the USO play differently.
 

Gizo

Hall of Fame
Bolded -> I have to disagree here and that's because hardcourts are the hardest to dominate.Being the prevalent surface on the tour, players have their games built for it, hence the competition is more diverse and stronger than on grass and clay.That being said, I don't think it is fair to use that argument against Fedovic, not to mention that the AO and the USO play differently.
Agreed. After Djokovic won the AO earlier this year, I said that that I thought winning 9 AO titles in the modern era is a more impressive achievement than winning either RG or Wimbledon 9 times (of course Nadal went way beyond that in Paris), because modern day tennis is clearly incredibly hard-court centric and the depth and competition on hard courts is overwhelming stronger compared that on either clay or grass.
 

Devtennis01

Legend
Nadal's record at RG means some people say 'oh he's so much more accomplished on Clay than he is on other surfaces.' Really, what people should be saying is Nadal has a remarkable achievement on hard court and grass and he has an unparalleled achievement on Clay. Nadal has five hard court slams. That's the same as or more than Lendl, Becker, Edberg, McEnroe, all who are considered as hard court greats. He has one less hard court slam than Agassi. Nadal is one of the top five hard court players ever. Federer, Sampras, Djokovic, Agassi and Nadal.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
So basically Rog switched racquets when, around end of 2013? He played and lost to Rafa in 2014 AO, which apparently doesn’t count.

However every other match has taken place in or after 2015, when Rafa’s form and speed fell off a cliff. Credit to Roger for adjusting but to compare his wins against post 2015 Rafa to playing against peak Rafa is a bad comparison.

Besides, Roger’s racquet was only one of several issues he had with Rafa. Roger’s stubborn insistence on coming into the net too often against the best passing shot in the game being one that had zero to do with his racquet. His unwillingness to hedge or step in to the backhand side of Rafa’s lefty serve being another.

This is also to ignore how the change has nerfed Roger’s GOAT forehand somewhat, who is to say what matches he would’ve lost due to that change even were he to win some more against Rafa.
2014 AO is not important because Fed was coming off his worst season, while Nadal was coming off one of his best.
 

ForehandRF

Hall of Fame
Agreed. And I think pushing Federer to 5 sets in the 2007 Wimbledon final also helps his case in this department as well.
Well, to be fair Djokovic managed to beat Nadal in 2015, but that win is overlooked by many due to Nadal's poor form.Even in those circumstances, it still counts I can say.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Nadal's record at RG means some people say 'oh he's so much more accomplished on Clay than he is on other surfaces.' Really, what people should be saying is Nadal has a remarkable achievement on hard court and grass and he has an unparalleled achievement on Clay. Nadal has five hard court slams. That's the same as or more than Lendl, Becker, Edberg, McEnroe, all who are considered as hard court greats. He has one less hard court slam than Agassi. Nadal is one of the top five hard court players ever. Federer, Sampras, Djokovic, Agassi and Nadal.
Nah, he is below Lendl as well.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Well, to be fair Djokovic managed to beat Nadal in 2015, but that win is overlooked by many due to Nadal's poor form.Even in those circumstances, it still counts I can say.
It doesn't. Federer didn't get the chance to play that Nadal and Nadal did not get to play a sub par Novak at the AO.
 

MichaelNadal

Bionic Poster
I don’t understand why Djokovic winning 12 hard court Slams and Federer wining 11 hardcourt Slams is not considered a poor achievement for supposedly hard court GOATs when there are two Slams on that surface every year. Compare it to the Clay GOAT who has won 13 Slams on his favored surface Slam even though there is only Slam on it. Nadal has won 5 hard court Slams on his 2nd favorite surface while Djokovic also has won 5 Slams on grass which is his second favorite surface - doesn’t seem different unless you take the same distinction into account that grass has only 1 Slam a year which makes 5 Wimbledons more special. Federer is the only one with a truly more balanced Slam title record on two surfaces with 11 hard court Slams and 8 Wimbledons, but his tepid head-head record against both his rivals makes it hard to think that he might be better than them. On his third best surface, Nadal has two Wimbledons on grass while Djokovic and Federer have only 1 clay Slam each.
Slaycallefty!!!
 

ForehandRF

Hall of Fame
It doesn't. Federer didn't get the chance to play that Nadal and Nadal did not get to play a sub par Novak at the AO.
What we can truly say is neither of them beat an in form Nadal there.Fed didn't had the chance to face that Nadal, but it is how it is.Djokovic still pushed Nadal more at the French than Fed did, with that 2013 SF.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
What we can truly say is neither of them beat an in form Nadal there.Fed didn't had the chance to face that Nadal, but it is how it is.Djokovic still pushed Nadal more at the French than Fed did, with that 2013 SF.
Sure, but he still didn't win. And they've both won the same amount of sets vs Nadal at the French.
 

Gizo

Hall of Fame
While 2015 was clearly the weakest version of Nadal at the business end at RG (it was the only season from 2005 onwards in which he didn't win a big title on the surface), Djokovic must still have been very frustrated that he wasn't able to win the title that year after beating him convincingly in the quarter-finals. At least he finally got his RG title the next year.

With Soderling in 2009, it was of course a completely different story given that he was big underdog while Djokovic was utterly dominant in 2015, and after beating Nadal (then Davydenko then Gonzalez), he had to face a 13 time grand slam champion that he had a 0-9 h2h (against only winning 1 set) in the final.
 

ForehandRF

Hall of Fame
While 2015 was clearly the weakest version of Nadal at the business end at RG (it was the only season from 2005 onwards in which he didn't win a big title on the surface), Djokovic must still have been frustrated that he wasn't able to win the title that year after beating him (convincingly)

With Soderling in 2009, it was of course a completely different story given that he was big underdog while Djokovic was utterly dominant in 2015, and after beating Nadal (then Davydenko then Gonzalez), he had to face a 13 time grand slam champion that he had a 0-9 h2h (against only winning 1 set) in the final.
I guess Nadal has only to blame himself for that showing in 2015.For instance, ever since Fed won his first Wimbledon, nobody has been able to beat him in straight sets there, not even when he was in his worst form.

Regarding Djokovic, that was a fiasco in 2015 but, to be fair, Stan played lights out tennis.
 
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