Why does Nadal struggle so much with journeymen on grass?

2012 he was suffering from tendinitis in his knee and subsequently withdrew from the Olympics, USO and the entire rest of the season.
2013 was a legitimately bad loss. He played the tiebreaks poorly. It happens a few times in a career.
2014 Rafa played a great match, 44 winners and 18 UE. Kyrgios simply played out of his mind to the tune of 70 winners and servebotted out the tiebreaks.
2015 he was playing the worst tennis of his career.
2016 he missed the tournament.
2017 he played an amazing match and lost an epic battle. He actually won 7 more points than Mueller. 77 winners, 17 UE. However, just 2 of 16 BP converted.


There you have it. Rafa struggling at Wimbledon is generally a misnomer and if you look behind the curtain, you will notice that he has actually been unlucky at the tournament and his prowess on grass has never wavered. Of course most people don't like to be confronted with the truth, but there it is.
Morally undefeated, we know.
 

racquetreligion

Hall of Fame
What surprises me is that the grass and balls were changed to suit the clay pidgies from Spain
to curve the boycotting that occurred every year and yet he still cant manage.
 

titoelcolombiano

Hall of Fame
If you wanna talk about it from this angle, why wasn’t Nadal able to make it to Federer on hardcourt?
Remember AO 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2017? At 3 - 1 in Rafa's favour in hard court slams Federer is lucky that they didn't meet more often. It would have just gotten more and more embarrasing for him.
 

titoelcolombiano

Hall of Fame
Except Nadal was 26-29 years old and Federer like 13.
Nice try but when Fed went out in the first two rounds at his pet event he was:

18 - fair enough - but not very GOATy from the grass GOAT
19 - Rafa had already won RG at 19
21 - Rafa had already won RG three times by the year he turned 21
32 - Not sure why a grass GOAT is exiting Wimbledon in round 2 at that age - Rafa won RG.... again at 32

I agree that Fed is the grass GOAT but if you want to look at what a real surface GOAT look like, check out Rafa's record at RG if you are not familiar with it ;)
 
Why is it that guys like Brown, Muller, Rosol, Kyrgios and Darcis have all smoked Nadal multiple times on grass while Nadal was in the peak of his career in his 20’s? What is it about his game that suffers so much on grass? Is he incapable of anticipating serves within 5ft of the baseline? The purpose of this thread is to really drill down why Nadal struggles so much on grass and identify all of the holes in his grass court game.
Back in the day there was hardly enough time to rest between RG and the grass season.
 

kar_katch

Rookie
Rafa has gone out in the first or second round on four occasions... the same amount of times that the grass GOAT
Yeah but didn't you say Rafa is youngest to win 18 or something and Federes 20 doesn't count yet? So age for age hasn't rafa lost early far more and also this is rafa losing all at wimbeldon, you're taking fed at every slam.
 

VaporDude95

Banned
Remember AO 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2017? At 3 - 1 in Rafa's favour in hard court slams Federer is lucky that they didn't meet more often. It would have just gotten more and more embarrasing for him.
Great.

You forgot AO 2018, AO 2016, AO 2013, AO 2011, AO 2010, AO 2007

You also forgot USO 2007, USO 2008, USO 2009, USO 2015.

So why was Nadal unable to even make it to Federer in the vast majority of cases, ESPECIALLY during Federer’s prime?
 
Nadal is vulnerable in the early stages of Wimbledon. Borg was exactly the same. The Swede was lucky not to lose in the first week on several occasions.

A natural clay court player switching to grass after winning Roland-Garros isn't an easy thing to do.
5 setters in early rounds in years they won or made final.

Borg - 0 1 1 1 0 0 = 3 in 6 years

Nadal - 1 2 0 2 0 = 5 in 5 years

Add the fact that the surface transition was much more drastic in Borg's day.

"exactly the same"
 

titoelcolombiano

Hall of Fame
Great.

You forgot AO 2018, AO 2016, AO 2013, AO 2011, AO 2010, AO 2007

You also forgot USO 2007, USO 2008, USO 2009, USO 2015.

So why was Nadal unable to even make it to Federer in the vast majority of cases, ESPECIALLY during Federer’s prime?
Like I said, it is lucky that he didn't otherwise things could have gotten ugly for Fed. Whilst we are on the topic though... let's have at how many times one failed to reach the other in slams:

AO:
Fed has gone deeper than Rafa 7 times
Rafa has gone deeper than Fed 5 times

hardly one sided

RG:
Fed has gone deeper than Rafa once
Rafa has gone deeper than Fed 10 times

very one sided

WIM:
Fed has gone deeper than Rafa 8 times
Rafa has gone deeper than Fed 5 times

again, hardly one sided especially as Fed is the grass GOAT and the numbers don't even begin to approach Rafa's at RG

USO:
Fed has gone deeper than Rafa 6 times
Rafa has gone deeper than Fed 6 times

Please tell me more about Rafa not going deep enough in slams to meet Fed...
 

titoelcolombiano

Hall of Fame
Yeah but didn't you say Rafa is youngest to win 18 or something and Federes 20 doesn't count yet? So age for age hasn't rafa lost early far more and also this is rafa losing all at wimbeldon, you're taking fed at every slam.
I've got no idea what you are trying to say
 
His racquet-assisted topspin game isn't useful on slick grass courts.

Could've lost in the first week even in years he won Wimbledon(unfortunately some dirty MTOs saved him)
 
Like I said, it is lucky that he didn't otherwise things could have gotten ugly for Fed. Whilst we are on the topic though... let's have at how many times one failed to reach the other in slams:

AO:
Fed has gone deeper than Rafa 7 times
Rafa has gone deeper than Fed 5 times

hardly one sided

RG:
Fed has gone deeper than Rafa once
Rafa has gone deeper than Fed 10 times

very one sided

WIM:
Fed has gone deeper than Rafa 8 times
Rafa has gone deeper than Fed 5 times

again, hardly one sided especially as Fed is the grass GOAT and the numbers don't even begin to approach Rafa's at RG

USO:
Fed has gone deeper than Rafa 6 times
Rafa has gone deeper than Fed 6 times

Please tell me more about Rafa not going deep enough in slams to meet Fed...
Since 2004:

AO - Nad missed the meeting 04, 06, 07, 10, 18; Fed 19; both 05, 08, 11, 13 (probably), 15, 16.

RG - Nad missed 09, Fed missed 10, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18; both 04, 15, 16.

Wim - Nad missed 04, 05, 09, 12, 14, 15, 17; Fed missed 10, 11; both missed 13, 16 (probably), 18.

USO - Nad missed 04-09, 15; Fed missed 10, 11, 13, 17; both missed 12, 14, 16, 18.

Missed meetings:

AO 5-1 Nad
RG 6-1 Fed
Wim 7-2 Nad
USO 7-4 Nad

Ombillible!
Tallying this up + actual h2h, they are right even. Only now the nadal is edging ahead of ancient boneserer on consistency, some achievement.
 

VaporDude95

Banned
Like I said, it is lucky that he didn't otherwise things could have gotten ugly for Fed. Whilst we are on the topic though... let's have at how many times one failed to reach the other in slams:

AO:
Fed has gone deeper than Rafa 7 times
Rafa has gone deeper than Fed 5 times

hardly one sided

RG:
Fed has gone deeper than Rafa once
Rafa has gone deeper than Fed 10 times

very one sided

WIM:
Fed has gone deeper than Rafa 8 times
Rafa has gone deeper than Fed 5 times

again, hardly one sided especially as Fed is the grass GOAT and the numbers don't even begin to approach Rafa's at RG

USO:
Fed has gone deeper than Rafa 6 times
Rafa has gone deeper than Fed 6 times

Please tell me more about Rafa not going deep enough in slams to meet Fed...
Now let’s compare titles

AO: Fed 6, Nadal 1 (lol)
WB: Fed 8, Nadal 2
USO: Fed 5, Nadal 3

Majority of his deep runs came after 2010, when Fed was already on the decline. He was not going deep enough to meet a pre-30 Federer.

You’re just trying to find any excuse you can to save the h2h argument, which doesn’t have any merit anyway.

“Things could’ve gotten ugly for Fed”? We saw what happened in 2017. You’re delusional.
 

kevaninho

Hall of Fame
Now let’s compare titles

AO: Fed 6, Nadal 1 (lol)
WB: Fed 8, Nadal 2
USO: Fed 5, Nadal 3

Majority of his deep runs came after 2010, when Fed was already on the decline. He was not going deep enough to meet a pre-30 Federer.

You’re just trying to find any excuse you can to save the h2h argument, which doesn’t have any merit anyway.

“Things could’ve gotten ugly for Fed”? We saw what happened in 2017. You’re delusional.
So his 5 year head start and tons more slams entered doesn't count? :-D Lets wait till Nadal has played the same amount of years as Fed before comparing.
Hes already a slam ahead at age 33 if compared.
 

VaporDude95

Banned
So his 5 year head start and tons more slams entered doesn't count? :-D Lets wait till Nadal has played the same amount of years as Fed before comparing.
Hes already a slam ahead at age 33 if compared.
You seriously think Nadal at 33-38 is gonna win 5 AOs, 6 Wimbledon’s and 2 more USOs?

Hahahahahaha

He’s not a “slam ahead”. Lew’s biased numbers don’t show anything. He’s 18<20 and behind even Sampras and Agassi off clay, let alone Djokovic and Federer.

0 WTF
Least weeks at number 1
Hasn’t even defended a title off clay.
 

Purplemonster

Hall of Fame
Why is it that guys like Brown, Muller, Rosol, Kyrgios and Darcis have all smoked Nadal multiple times on grass while Nadal was in the peak of his career in his 20’s? What is it about his game that suffers so much on grass? Is he incapable of anticipating serves within 5ft of the baseline? The purpose of this thread is to really drill down why Nadal struggles so much on grass and identify all of the holes in his grass court game.
Journeymen already have nothing to lose, once they are on grass their minds are completely cleared and relaxed.
 

Enga

Hall of Fame
It's because no matter what surface he plays on, he plays like it's clay. The only times he won is when he didn't do that. He cares more about maintaining clay form than altering his game for other surfaces.
 

DSH

Hall of Fame
That last paragraph is pretty darn delusional.

Nadal doesn’t have the physicality to moonball on grass and he’s been getting exposed like he should’ve been all along.

When you realise how he’s struggled even when he won the tournament, you’ll realise that him actually winning TWICE is an incredible misnomer. The recent results prove that. (Especially in 2010. Should’ve lost to Peszchner and Haase)

The second he comes up against someone who can serve and put the ball over the net with a bit of pace, and the weather isn’t unusually hot and dry, Nadal is basically guaranteed to exit before the Final.

No, he shouldn’t have lost against those guys.
Accoding to your logic, Nadal should have won against Muller and Djokovic in the last a couple of editions aswell.

The premise of the detractors of Spaniard is if he is in trouble, his opponent should have won, removing merit to the recovery and the adaptability that one has the great tennis players in history in that regard.

And do not forget in that match against Rosol, in 2012, after the convincing 6-2 in favor of Nadal in the fourth set, there was a break of 30 to 40 minutes to close the roof of the stadium that hurt the Bull, and took away the momentum from him.
At the start of the fifth set, a bad game of serve of the Spaniard and that was it.
Rosol, not only played the match of his life, in that fifth set starred in one of the unforgettable sequences of serve rarely seen and comparable with the best servers in history as Sampras, Ivanisevic, Karlovic, Roddick or Federer himself.
 

DSH

Hall of Fame
Since 2004:

AO - Nad missed the meeting 04, 06, 07, 10, 18; Fed 19; both 05, 08, 11, 13 (probably), 15, 16.

RG - Nad missed 09, Fed missed 10, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18; both 04, 15, 16.

Wim - Nad missed 04, 05, 09, 12, 14, 15, 17; Fed missed 10, 11; both missed 13, 16 (probably), 18.

USO - Nad missed 04-09, 15; Fed missed 10, 11, 13, 17; both missed 12, 14, 16, 18.

Missed meetings:

AO 5-1 Nad
RG 6-1 Fed
Wim 7-2 Nad
USO 7-4 Nad

Ombillible!
Tallying this up + actual h2h, they are right even. Only now the nadal is edging ahead of ancient boneserer on consistency, some achievement.

You do not have to lower yourself so much!
Nadal was not a factor in that season, please.
:oops:
 

TennisFan3

Legend
- His first serve return, as a pure stroke (not factoring in what happens once the ball is in play), isn’t really in the same league as the Federer’s, Djokovic’s or Murray’s of the world.

- He can’t rely on his serve to be a point-ender, so there is additional pressure on him to put the clamps down on his service games. One slippery service game can mean the set.
Thank you.

I've been saying that for a while now. That for ROS as a standalone shot, Nadal's is pretty pedestrian by his own standards. Likely the worst in top 10. People SCREAM and quote return games won stats, but that is skewed by how STRONG Nadal is in a neutral rally. Clay is probably the only surface where Nadal can push his opponent back with his ROS. On all other surfaces, Nadal struggles to even get on even terms after the ROS. Part of his problems are technical: Long follow-through, hacking with the big grip change etc. On grass Nadal's ROS problem is magnified as he can't get a LOT of balls back in play or his return is so short that he loses control of the rally right away. That puts more pressure on Nadal's serve..

Speaking of which, serve is a problem for Rafa on grass - since he relies more on spin than power and precision. He gets fewer free points than other top players. So if he misses first serves in one game, he gets broken. And on grass that means, bye bye to the set.

If Nadal had anywhere close to the ROS of Novak/Murray - he would have been unbeatable. While Nadal's serve is not great per se, it's still ok. But the ROS truly stands out as the biggest weakness in Nadal's game BY FAR. It's in the disaster category of Novak's overhead. Unfortunately Nadal hasn't been able to improve the ROS with time, especially as he's lost the speed, explosiveness and reflexes with age.
 
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NBP

Hall of Fame
3 sets to 0 isn't the same as losing in the 5th :-D.
They both lost in the same round:-D:-D and there is a difference between losing to the #2 and two time defending champion in unplayable conditions against the #22 who hadn't even been in a slam SF for two years...
 

kevaninho

Hall of Fame
They both lost in the same round:-D:-D and there is a difference between losing to the #2 and two time defending champion in unplayable conditions against the #22 who hadn't even been in a slam SF for two years...
Losing 3-0 and losing 3-2 are completely different, but OK :-D
 

kar_katch

Rookie
Nice try but when Fed went out in the first two rounds at his pet event he was:

32 - Not sure why a grass GOAT is exiting Wimbledon in round 2 at that age - Rafa won RG.... again at 32
Nadal was pretty awful around that age too osing to random mugs even on clay in 15 and 16 and of course getting battered in straight sets by djokovic in his pet slam. I cant remember, didnt Djokovic even breadstick nadal in that semi final thrashing?

Also I cant remember isn't 32 age fed 2013 the year he was injured?

Ned has compensated for so many mug early round losses though by winning so many slams masters etc over so many years so I wouldn't hold nadals early slam losses against him at all he is tier 1 ATG, near GOATworthy even with those mug losses. If he had less slams and less longevity and all those mug losses in peak years then yes that would be a problem but he doesn't.
 

DSH

Hall of Fame
Thank you.

I've been saying that for a while now. That for ROS as a standalone shot, Nadal's is pretty pedestrian by his own standards. Likely the worst in top 10. People SCREAM and quote return games won stats, but that is skewed by how STRONG Nadal is in a neutral rally. Clay is probably the only surface where Nadal can push his opponent back with his ROS. On all other surfaces, Nadal struggles to even get on even terms after the ROS. Part of his problems are technical: Long follow-through, hacking with the big grip change etc. On grass Nadal's ROS problem is magnified as he can't get a LOT of balls back in play or his return is so short that he loses control of the rally right away. That puts more pressure on Nadal's serve..

Speaking of which, serve is a problem for Rafa on grass - since he relies more on spin than power and precision. He gets fewer free points than other top players. So if he misses first serves in one game, he gets broken. And on grass that mean, bye bye to the set.

If Nadal had anywhere close to the ROS of Novak/Murray - he would have been unbeatable. While Nadal's serve is not great per se, it's still ok. But the ROS truly stands out as the biggest weakness in Nadal's game BY FAR. It's in the disaster category of Novak's overhead. Unfortunately Nadal hasn't been able to improve the ROS with time, especially as he's lost the speed, explosiveness and reflexes with age.
In another topic,
How do you rate Sampras return of serve on grass compared to Federer, for example?
 

Sosuke Aizen

New User
Nice try but when Fed went out in the first two rounds at his pet event he was:

18 - fair enough - but not very GOATy from the grass GOAT
19 - Rafa had already won RG at 19
21 - Rafa had already won RG three times by the year he turned 21
32 - Not sure why a grass GOAT is exiting Wimbledon in round 2 at that age - Rafa won RG.... again at 32

I agree that Fed is the grass GOAT but if you want to look at what a real surface GOAT look like, check out Rafa's record at RG if you are not familiar with it ;)
Federer played in a Wimbledon final at age 32. He also won Wimbledon at age 21 so you're wrong on both points.
 

Benjamin Rio

Professional
Why is it that guys like Brown, Muller, Rosol, Kyrgios and Darcis have all smoked Nadal multiple times on grass while Nadal was in the peak of his career in his 20’s? What is it about his game that suffers so much on grass? Is he incapable of anticipating serves within 5ft of the baseline? The purpose of this thread is to really drill down why Nadal struggles so much on grass and identify all of the holes in his grass court game.
He can't outlast his opponents the way he does it on slower surfaces. So when he faces a better tennis player he loses.
 

TennisFan3

Legend
In another topic,
How do you rate Sampras return of serve on grass compared to Federer, for example?
That's a hard question. They are fairly even. I'd say Sampras had a MORE aggressive ROS especially while returning second serve: chip and charge or taking the ball on the rise and redirecting it (ala Novak).
Federer has a better defensive ROS, but that's also gone down with age. Again Fed's overall ground game was better than Sampras, so his return stats would be better, even though his standalone ROS is maybe not as good.

The other thing with Pete was that his serve was so strong, that he could play the score and coast through his opponent's serve games without expending too much energy. Then on the business end of a set (or any other critical game) he would suddenly find a way to break. Federer has more weapons, but Pete was definitely a mentally stronger player.
 
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titoelcolombiano

Hall of Fame
Nadal was pretty awful around that age too osing to random mugs even on clay in 15 and 16 and of course getting battered in straight sets by djokovic in his pet slam. I cant remember, didnt Djokovic even breadstick nadal in that semi final thrashing?
Ah no, Rafa going out in the quarter finals of RG to Djokovic at age 29 is very different to Fed going out of Wimbledon in the second round to Stahkovsky


Also I cant remember isn't 32 age fed 2013 the year he was injured?
I don't know, you are telling the story - have you got a source for that? He played the full season.

Ned has compensated for so many mug early round losses though by winning so many slams masters etc over so many years so I wouldn't hold nadals early slam losses against him at all he is tier 1 ATG, near GOATworthy even with those mug losses. If he had less slams and less longevity and all those mug losses in peak years then yes that would be a problem but he doesn't.
As I've pointed out previously, Federer has had more early exits in slams that Rafa
 

titoelcolombiano

Hall of Fame
Now let’s compare titles

AO: Fed 6, Nadal 1 (lol)
WB: Fed 8, Nadal 2
USO: Fed 5, Nadal 3

Majority of his deep runs came after 2010, when Fed was already on the decline. He was not going deep enough to meet a pre-30 Federer.

You’re just trying to find any excuse you can to save the h2h argument, which doesn’t have any merit anyway.

“Things could’ve gotten ugly for Fed”? We saw what happened in 2017. You’re delusional.
I'll leave you with the original stats that I posted that answer your original question of Rafa not meeting Fed enough in slams. They are self-explanitary and hardly one-sided.

Fed on the decline post-2010 but won 4 slams? You can't have it both ways.

2017 was one victory. What happened in 2009, 2012 and 2014?

You can rattle off titles all you like but the slam H2H is 9 - 3 in favour of Rafa and 4 - 3 in favour of Rafa in your favourite stat - off-clay ;)
 
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