Why has nobody stepped up to defeat Nadal at FO?

Does anyone else find it slightly bizarre that Nadals consistency at Roland Garros is just absurd ?
Nadal is the greatest clay court player of all time but he has still lost numerous matches at atp500 and atp1000 clay tournaments yet his RG record is almost perfect. Djokovic did defeat Rafa but the only player I feel to legitimately defeat a well playing Nadal at RG was Soderling. I don’t buy the argument at all that he was injured in the 2009 French Open and genuinely think this is an excuse from Nadal fans.
I just don’t understand how it’s possible a near 35 year old which is ancient in tennis terms can potentially get a 14th FO title in the next few weeks, why aren’t other players stepping up to try and stop this ?
Nadal is either too good and makes the competition look bad, or the competition is that pathetic that Nadal can win this thing with his eyes shut. A player like Federer in his prime would crush any version of the Nadal of today on clay so why don’t the “next gen” try and adapt this into their game and consider it a challenge to go all out and try and beat him. I think 99% of players lose before the first point is even played because they are so defeatist. Only Djokovic has the heart to try and take him on and even he can’t get the job done....so what’s the crack here, why is Nadal winning so many titles ?
 

Rosstour

G.O.A.T.
LOL

Nadal will win another 20 FOs. He will stop playing tennis for most of the year (at the age of 50, he will get waivers for mandatory events) and then just show up in Paris and win. He is that good.
This is seriously what I think will happen.

I'm guessing that the ATP will add another clay masters somewhere in Europe, so that Rafa can continue to just come out of semi retirement to get a few warmup tournaments, secure some ranking points, and go on to win yet another RG.

I truly believe his last win there will come well into his 40s. Maybe even like 47 or 48.
 

Krish872007

Talk Tennis Guru
1. Nadal just is that good

2. The clay at RG is even more conducive to his topspin and weight of shot

3. Courts like Chatrier and Lenglen have a huge amount of space at the back and the sides, giving him more time to set up shots, retrieve balls. And also helpful given his deep return stance - he doesn't have to worry about being in the stands

4. It's too much of a mental burden for most players to take 3 sets off him given all the above. They know they need to be zoning for at least 3 hours.

5. Despite his weaker recent form, the massive aura he has established further enhances problem #4. The time to beat him would have been while he was still trying to establish an aura back in 2005 or 2006.
 

Yugram

Legend
1. Nadal just is that good

2. The clay at RG is even more conducive to his topspin and weight of shot

3. Courts like Chatrier and Lenglen have a huge amount of space at the back and the sides, giving him more time to set up shots, retrieve balls. And also helpful given his deep return stance - he doesn't have to worry about being in the stands

4. It's too much of a mental burden for most players to take 3 sets off him given all the above. They know they need to be zoning for at least 3 hours.

5. Despite his weaker recent form, the massive aura he has established further enhances problem #4. The time to beat him would have been while he was still trying to establish an aura back in 2005 or 2006.
I never really understood this. It’s not like Nadal constantly hits into the walls while running side to side in Monte Carlo or Rome. Maybe it’s more about psychological comfort, but I really can’t see how court dimensions affect the shots approach.
 

Backspin1183

Talk Tennis Guru
I never really understood this. It’s not like Nadal constantly hits into the walls while running side to side in Monte Carlo or Rome. Maybe it’s more about psychological comfort, but I really can’t see how court dimensions affect the shots approach.
He's so able to create more angles on PC than on other clay courts from what I've seen.
 

Krish872007

Talk Tennis Guru
I never really understood this. It’s not like Nadal constantly hits into the walls while running side to side in Monte Carlo or Rome. Maybe it’s more about psychological comfort, but I really can’t see how court dimensions affect the shots approach.
He doesn't run into the sides or the back all the time but it's more my feeling after having seen him play - that he instinctively feels more comfortable at the French even if he's not in charge of a rally. He backs himself to move around more and turn the point in his favour, create ridiculous angles, make ridiculous gets. This used to be a much bigger thing in his younger days but probably since 2011-ish he's been a lot more aggressive from the outset. And now it's practically first strike tennis
 

Backspin1183

Talk Tennis Guru
This is seriously what I think will happen.

I'm guessing that the ATP will add another clay masters somewhere in Europe, so that Rafa can continue to just come out of semi retirement to get a few warmup tournaments, secure some ranking points, and go on to win yet another RG.

I truly believe his last win there will come well into his 40s. Maybe even like 47 or 48.
Not at all. Even if he wins this year, I doubt he can defend it next year. He's not gonna win forever and he's really beginning to show his age. His stamina is doubtful these days when a match goes over 3 hours.
 

Krish872007

Talk Tennis Guru
Not at all. Even if he wins this year, I doubt he can defend it next year. He's not gonna win forever and he's really beginning to show his age.
Well whoever does beat him next needs to dismantle "the aura"
It's almost an expectation that Nadal wins this title losing at most 1 set along the way - such are the high standards he's set
The belief from the rest will only come if someone from "NextGen" can take 2 sets off him in a match - or if he drops a set every round or something
 

victorcruz

Hall of Fame
Not at all. Even if he wins this year, I doubt he can defend it next year. He's not gonna win forever and he's really beginning to show his age. His stamina is doubtful these days when a match goes over 3 hours.
Facts. I worry any time he loses a set at a slam. I know in the past he could will himself to wins, but it just doesn't feel that way any more as he gets older. At the same time, feel like he will still be able to at RG. But not sure about any of the HCs if he is playing a top 10 player.
 

Krish872007

Talk Tennis Guru
Facts. I worry any time he loses a set at a slam. I know in the past he could will himself to wins, but it just doesn't feel that way any more as he gets older. At the same time, feel like he will still be able to at RG. But not sure about any of the HCs if he is playing a top 10 player.
Yes hardcourt is a different ballgame
I actually rate his chances at Wimbledon higher than in Australia. 2009 is likely to remain the only AO triumph for him - but what a victory that was!
 

Krish872007

Talk Tennis Guru
Shame but not like he didn't have his chances. Up a break twice in the 5th set of finals, plus the final vs. Wawrinka. It is what it is.
I see 2014 as the one that really got away - big favourite going into the match and coming off a hard fought QF and a top-drawer SF performance

2012 just super impressive he made it to a fifth; 2017 felt like he was under siege on his serve the entire set so was just a matter of time
 

weakera

Talk Tennis Guru
I see 2014 as the one that really got away - big favourite going into the match and coming off a hard fought QF and a top-drawer SF performance

2012 just super impressive he made it to a fifth; 2017 felt like he was under siege on his serve the entire set so was just a matter of time

I would agree re: 2012 but for that 30-15 miss up the line. I just feel he wins it if he pushes the score to 5-2.
 

Rosstour

G.O.A.T.
Facts. I worry any time he loses a set at a slam. I know in the past he could will himself to wins, but it just doesn't feel that way any more as he gets older. At the same time, feel like he will still be able to at RG. But not sure about any of the HCs if he is playing a top 10 player.
He can still do that. How many matches has he pulled out vs NextGen that he should have lost? The other guy eventually realizes he's playing Rafael Nadal and surrenders.
 

Patogen

Rookie
French Open is a tough one in itself. You gotta be very, very, very patient, and kinda rugged. Facing someone like Nadal only multiplies the annoyance. Because at his best, he could just outlast anyone.

Back when Nadal had the legs, you were facing a wall. Or the wall was facing you. He could get to his gigantic FH topspin at any moment, and if you managed to give him trouble for a few games, he would simply turn on his wall gear and you were dwarfed.

He made everyone look pitifully hopeless. And they probably felt that way too.
 

King No1e

G.O.A.T.
Does anyone else find it slightly bizarre that Nadals consistency at Roland Garros is just absurd ?
Nadal is the greatest clay court player of all time but he has still lost numerous matches at atp500 and atp1000 clay tournaments yet his RG record is almost perfect. Djokovic did defeat Rafa but the only player I feel to legitimately defeat a well playing Nadal at RG was Soderling. I don’t buy the argument at all that he was injured in the 2009 French Open and genuinely think this is an excuse from Nadal fans.
I just don’t understand how it’s possible a near 35 year old which is ancient in tennis terms can potentially get a 14th FO title in the next few weeks, why aren’t other players stepping up to try and stop this ?
Nadal is either too good and makes the competition look bad, or the competition is that pathetic that Nadal can win this thing with his eyes shut. A player like Federer in his prime would crush any version of the Nadal of today on clay so why don’t the “next gen” try and adapt this into their game and consider it a challenge to go all out and try and beat him. I think 99% of players lose before the first point is even played because they are so defeatist. Only Djokovic has the heart to try and take him on and even he can’t get the job done....so what’s the crack here, why is Nadal winning so many titles ?
Federer in his prime would not crush Nadal of 2020/21. He would probably struggle to even beat 2015 Rafa at RG.
In general, Fedal RG matches go one way and one way only.
 
T

TheNachoMan

Guest
Federer in his prime would not crush Nadal of 2020/21. He would probably struggle to even beat 2015 Rafa at RG.
In general, Fedal RG matches go one way and one way only.
Fedal at Wimbledon is always tense and can go either way. Can’t say the same for RG. Novak has managed to hold off Rafa at his pet slam unlike Feddy
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Federer in his prime would not crush Nadal of 2020/21. He would probably struggle to even beat 2015 Rafa at RG.
In general, Fedal RG matches go one way and one way only.
Fedal at Wimbledon is always tense and can go either way. Can’t say the same for RG. Novak has managed to hold off Rafa at his pet slam unlike Feddy
I truly hope this is trolling.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
The problem is that nobody has been able to even make it close against Oldal. That's what's worse. Even if you can't beat him, at least push him since he's older and slower.

So the competition being terrible in the last 5 years has contributed massively to Nadal being even more dominant than before.
 

Kralingen

G.O.A.T.
From another thread…

I have to agree with @Krish872007 but the biggest reason it hasn’t even been close is a declined Djokovic, a 1HBH player in Thiem who doesn’t have the game to outhit Rafa, and basically a bunch of inexperienced, uninterested, or simply overmatched opponents. 2017-2021 are the dark days of clay and it doesn’t seem to be getting much better.

For me the Thiem/Diego decline illustrates an underrated part of the “weak era” argument - 2017-2021 are undoubtedly the weakest clay years of the ATP tour in the last 25 years. Aside from Djokovic (who dealt with injuries and also lost to Thiem twice at RG) there has been no one even within miles of a declined Nadal on clay. Who even is a clay challenger these days? Tsitsipas and Zverev have shown promise, but no other player born after 1993 has made a French Open SF or won a clay Masters aside from them. It’s not just Nadal’s dominance at play here, there is a serious dearth of dirtballers.

Which young player actually has titles on this surface? Garin? Ruud? Maybe Sinner and Korda can build off their FO runs last year. For now I worry that the clay field is at an all time low. The lack of competition is much more pronounced than on Hard or Grass.
 

Sport

G.O.A.T.
From another thread…

I have to agree with @Krish872007 but the biggest reason it hasn’t even been close is a declined Djokovic, a 1HBH player in Thiem who doesn’t have the game to outhit Rafa, and basically a bunch of inexperienced, uninterested, or simply overmatched opponents. 2017-2021 are the dark days of clay and it doesn’t seem to be getting much better.
Nadal is also declined. I don't see how are 2017-2021 the "dark days of clay", but 2019-2021 not "the dark days of the AO". By your logic, Djokovic only has had as rivals a declined Nadal, a 1HBH player in Thiem who only challengued him one year and basically a bunch of unexperienced, uninterested, or simply overmatched opponents.

Double standard detected.

Nadal wins RG: dark clay era.
Djokovic wins the AO: everything is fine.
 
Last edited:

BorgTheGOAT

Hall of Fame
Nadal is the greatest clay courter of all time but of course also he declined with age so the main reason of his success in recent years is the complete incompetence of the next gen and the fact that Djokovic also quickly declined on clay. 2018-2020 Nadal is nowhere near peak Nadal so if a young player on the level of Kuerten or even peak Federer/Djokovic emerged his dominance would be over.
 

Kralingen

G.O.A.T.
Nadal is also declined.
Definitely, but no one ever thought they were on the same level on clay. at least Djokovic was an actual threat at one point in time. His injuries, lack of forehand power, and disappointing tactical choices have seen a declined Clayovic since 2017.

Nadal still can use his bread and butter playstyle and no one is strong enough to use his declined speed against him..
 

Sport

G.O.A.T.
Definitely, but no one ever thought they were on the same level on clay. at least Djokovic was an actual threat at one point in time. His injuries, lack of forehand power, and disappointing tactical choices have seen a declined Clayovic since 2017.

Nadal still can use his bread and butter playstyle and no one is strong enough to use his declined speed against him..
Didn't you see the Rome 2021 final? Djokovic made some crazy unreturnable forehand winners. You are underselling Novak here. I know that the RG 2020 final was very one-sided, but what if we get another closer one like in 2012-2014?

In the Rome 2021 final Nadal won 97 points and Djokovic 94. He can still be a tough opponent at RG. We will see.
 

StrongRule

G.O.A.T.
Definitely, but no one ever thought they were on the same level on clay. at least Djokovic was an actual threat at one point in time. His injuries, lack of forehand power, and disappointing tactical choices have seen a declined Clayovic since 2017.

Nadal still can use his bread and butter playstyle and no one is strong enough to use his declined speed against him..
Djokovic being on heavy decline on clay is a myth. Sure, he had a slump in 2017-2018, but these years are irrelevant to what we see now. Rome 2021 was a good tournament by Djokovic's clay standards, Nadal barely won. And given Nadal's mental problems against him, RG might be tough...
 

Kralingen

G.O.A.T.
Didn't you see the Rome 2021 final? Djokovic made some crazy unreturnable forehand winners. You are underselling Novak here. I know that the RG 2020 final was very one-sided, but what if we get another closer one like in 2012-2014?

In the Rome 2021 final Nadal won 97 points and Djokovic 94. He can still be a tough opponent at RG. We will see.
Yeah, Djokovic did look to show something big in Rome. I know vs. Thiem the lack of a forehand winner was a big time issue though...

btw I didn't see your edit, to respond:
I don't see how are 2017-2021 the "dark days of clay", but 2019-2021 not "the dark days of the AO". By your logic, Djokovic only has had as rivals a declined Nadal, a 1HBH player in Thiem who only challengued him one year and basically a bunch of unexperienced, unineterested, or simply overmatched opponents.
But my logic doesn't apply the same to the AO and Hard Court because 67% of the season is played there, and the player pool is much larger. #2 Daniil Medvedev, who went toe to toe with Rafa in 2019 USO and was on a 12 match winning streak coming into AO 2021, openly tanks clay matches and is up there for biggest fraud of a #2 seed RG has ever seen. Berrettini, Medvedev, Cilic, Raonic, and Anderson are all HC GS semifinalists from 2019-2021 who are complete non-factors on clay.

So even without the playing pool discussion, Nadal has never even played a good NextGen guy (0-0 vs. Tsitsipas and Zverev at RG) while Djokovic has beaten Zverev and Medvedev at the AO. The NextGen are not ATGs but at the very least Djokovic has played his future rivals, Nadal has really only played Thiem.

Double standard detected.
Of course it's a double standard because the playing fields and surfaces are different. You can't analyze the clay field with guys like Medvedev and Berrettini top 10 the same way you analyze HC.
Here's my comparisons:
#1 - Nadal on clay > Djokovic on hard currently.
#2 - Nadal's challengers on clay < Djokovic's challengers on hard currently.
#3 - Nadal's future challengers on clay < Djokovic's future challengers on hard.

Nadal wins RG: dark clay era.
Djokovic wins the AO: everything is fine.
I wasn't making any statements about the AO in my first post though, I was just illustrating with facts the decline of the clay field. I want to see good tennis matches and I can name on one hand the number of Chatrier wins Nadal has had since 2017 that are exciting, close matches.
Djokovic is also playing through a weak era, I agree. But the HC challenger list has more promise and is deeper & stronger currently.
 
Does anyone else find it slightly bizarre that Nadals consistency at Roland Garros is just absurd ?
Nadal is the greatest clay court player of all time but he has still lost numerous matches at atp500 and atp1000 clay tournaments yet his RG record is almost perfect. Djokovic did defeat Rafa but the only player I feel to legitimately defeat a well playing Nadal at RG was Soderling. I don’t buy the argument at all that he was injured in the 2009 French Open and genuinely think this is an excuse from Nadal fans.
I just don’t understand how it’s possible a near 35 year old which is ancient in tennis terms can potentially get a 14th FO title in the next few weeks, why aren’t other players stepping up to try and stop this ?
Nadal is either too good and makes the competition look bad, or the competition is that pathetic that Nadal can win this thing with his eyes shut. A player like Federer in his prime would crush any version of the Nadal of today on clay so why don’t the “next gen” try and adapt this into their game and consider it a challenge to go all out and try and beat him. I think 99% of players lose before the first point is even played because they are so defeatist. Only Djokovic has the heart to try and take him on and even he can’t get the job done....so what’s the crack here, why is Nadal winning so many titles ?
Are you implying that Nadal withdrew from W09 just because he wanted to justify his loss at the FO? That doesn't make sense. Of course he was injured.
 
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