Why was Federer incapable of beating Nadal at RG, unlike Djokovic?

goldengate14

Semi-Pro
Federer has a 0-6 record against Nadal at RG, never took more than 1 set off him in a match. Djokovic has a 2-7 record and 1 of those losses was an extremely close 5 setter that he could have won. Why was Federer so poor against Nadal at RG, whereas Djokovic has done reasonably well?
Djokovic beat the worse version of Nadal in 2015 whom Federer never had the luck to play and beat a Nadal literally playing on one foot aged 35 this year whome 34 year old Federer would not have needed 4hours to beat.
if in any doubt who is the better clay court player between Federer and Djokovic watch their SF in 2011 at Rg. The best ever version of Djokovic vs 30 year old past prime Federer and Federer routined him.
 

Sunny014

Legend
Don't know what you are talking about. Like I said to me 2008-2013 Nadal stronger than 2005-2007 Nadal in Paris.
Nadal had his tendon issue on both his knees in 09 which started to slow him down for the first time, in 2010 he again had knee issues at the time of the 2010 AO.......while he had an immensely successful year his knee had started slowing him down, he was no longer at his absolute peak after 2009.
 

goldengate14

Semi-Pro
Nadal has got beaten by only two players at Roland garros .
Both players had Two handed backhand .

One handed backhand Player can never beat Nadal at Roland Garros .
If Federer had a Two handed backhand like say Andy Murray ,he would have had a chance too .
Simple !
The only player who beat prime Nadal at RG is Soderling.
2011 proved who is better on clay between Federer and Djokovic in their semi final. Also 34 year old Federer if he had Nadal and Djokovic out injured and got to fsce medvedev Tsitsipas and Berretini in slam finals would have won the CYGS as would Nadal. Id even suggest Murray and Wawrinka would have done.
 

Sunny014

Legend
I dare say that Nadal's absolute "physical peak" ended in 09 (due to knee issues) just like Federer's ended in 07 due to Mono in early 08

They have had immensely success years after this as well but then facts are facts, Novak at his best never faced Peak Physical Nadal.
 

goldengate14

Semi-Pro
Nadal had his tendon issue on both his knees in 09 which started to slow him down for the first time, in 2010 he again had knee issues at the time of the 2010 AO.......while he had an immensely successful year his knee had started slowing him down, he was no longer at his absolute peak after 2009.
Peak Nadal ended in Australia 2011 v Ferrer. Ever since then was never the same player. That he and Federer still dominated alomgside prime Djokovic for another decade is why they are the two grestest ever this century and a notch above Djokovic.
Djokovic footspeed perhaps slightly down now and his level droppin and what happens? A humiliation by Medvedev who has no forecourt gsme at all. Therein lies the difference between Fedal and Novak.
 

Thetouch

Professional
Nadal had his tendon issue on both his knees in 09 which started to slow him down for the first time, in 2010 he again had knee issues at the time of the 2010 AO.......while he had an immensely successful year his knee had started slowing him down, he was no longer at his absolute peak after 2009.
Maybe but he compensated through experience and strength. Nadal never went 5 sets with anybody from 2005-2009 right? The fact that he could go toe and toe with Djokovic in 2013 and still beat him, while destroying Wawrinka earlier (and even in 2017 when Stan was the defending champion) speaks for Nadal's high quality.

No actually Stan won in 2015, my bad
 

ForehandRF

Hall of Fame
People say Federer faced a superior Nadal, that's not quite true. In 2011 Nadal was beatable, as Djokovic himself shown, and Federer failed to take advantage. The same thing in 2005, Nadal was up and coming, Federer was dominating the tour. He had the experience of being a slam winner multiple times while Nadal was going far for the first time at a slam.

To deny that Djokovic is much better than Federer at facing Nadal on clay is ridiculous. Even excluding the two wins, he was closer in 2013 than Federer ever was. In 2012 he was a break up to take it to a fifth, probably closer than Federer ever was too. And in 2014 he was closer as well, or at least somewhat there. Pick Federer's best performance against Nadal and you have several performances by Djokovic that were better or at the same level.

A peak Djokovic, 2011 or 2015, beats a young 2005 Nadal.
I agree that those versions of Djokovic would beat 2005 Nadal, but so would 2006,2007 or 2011 Fed imo.Fed was not up to task on clay B05 yet in 2005 against a great opponent and he was mostly a ball basher in that SF.2005 Nadal was beatable and so was 2006, but to a lower extent :D
 

Sunny014

Legend
Maybe but he compensated through experience and strength. Nadal never went 5 sets with anybody from 2005-2009 right? The fact that he could go toe and toe with Djokovic in 2013 and still beat him, while destroying Wawrinka earlier (and even in 2017 when Stan was the defending champion) speaks for Nadal's high quality.
Nadal got better as a player from 2010 than he was before, that is obvious.
But speed matters.... Same for Fed too, he after 2014 has been a much improved player than he was 10 years game-wise that still doesn't mean he can beat his younger version.

Nadal reached his highest ever points on the ATP rankings during april 2009, this is for a reason, he was at his peak in 08-09 and since then he never could touch such heights
 

Thetouch

Professional
Nadal got better as a player from 2010 than he was before, that is obvious.
But speed matters.... Same for Fed too, he after 2014 has been a much improved player than he was 10 years game-wise that still doesn't mean he can beat his younger version.

Nadal reached his highest ever points on the ATP rankings during april 2009, this is for a reason, he was at his peak in 08-09 and since then he never could touch such heights
Nadal played more fluently until 2009 maybe, that I agree with.
 

Sunny014

Legend
Tennis has been in a weak era since 2016 because no new ATG arrived to take over the rank 1 spot.

Historically no ATG enjoyed a greater run that 6 years at the top of the food chain but Novak has enjoyed greater run and even Nadal (who is not even a guy who dominates the tour whole year) enjoyed extended success in ending years as 1 later on his his career.


Longest Career First End of Season ATP No. 1 to Last ATP No. 1

RankCountryNameSeason SpanFirst SeasonLast Season
1ESPRafael Nadal1220082019
2SRBNovak Djokovic1020112020
3USAPete Sampras619931998
3SUIRoger Federer620042009
5USAJimmy Connors519741978
5USAIvan Lendl519851989
7USAJohn McEnroe419811984
8SWEBjorn Borg219791980
8SWEStefan Edberg219901991
8AUSLleyton Hewitt220012002
11ROUIlie Nastase119731973
 

ForehandRF

Hall of Fame

One important thing to be noted in this match, other than Nadal being at his best, is that the sunny conditions made Fed's situation even worse; look how high is that ball bouncing on his BH side, it's absurd lol That can't excuse his abysmal BP conversion though :D
 

maratha_warrior

Hall of Fame
The only player who beat prime Nadal at RG is Soderling.
2011 proved who is better on clay between Federer and Djokovic in their semi final. Also 34 year old Federer if he had Nadal and Djokovic out injured and got to fsce medvedev Tsitsipas and Berretini in slam finals would have won the CYGS as would Nadal. Id even suggest Murray and Wawrinka would have done.
Hi BeckerServe

Roland Garros 2021 SF is the most historic and iconic match :p:-D
 

Ray Mercer

Hall of Fame
Djokovic is a better all-around player than Federer including on slow surfaces.
My point is that Federer at his best still couldn't beat Nadal on clay when Nadal wasn't even in his prime yet. I don't know whether Rafa played badly or Djokovic played much better but the fact is that both times Djokovic beat Nadal when he had won RG for 5 and 4 years in a row. It's not like Nadal hadn't won RG in years either, so I give him credit for beating Nadal.
You’re an idiot. Nadal was in his athletic prime from 2005-2008. His speed and defensive abilities were off the charts. Nobody was a better defender than a young Nadal.
 

Jokervich

Hall of Fame
Djokovic beat the worse version of Nadal in 2015 whom Federer never had the luck to play and beat a Nadal literally playing on one foot aged 35 this year whome 34 year old Federer would not have needed 4hours to beat.
if in any doubt who is the better clay court player between Federer and Djokovic watch their SF in 2011 at Rg. The best ever version of Djokovic vs 30 year old past prime Federer and Federer routined him.
But in 2012, Djokovic routined Federer at RG. I wouldn't really call it "routined" either. 2 sets were close tiebreaks that could have gone either way.
 
He had the level to take down a 2015 or 2021 version of Nadal at RG, that should be indisputable to anyone who's seen what he was capable of back then.

What he lacked was the longevity on clay to get to those versions of Nadal. Fed hasn't had a truly great run at RG since 2011 (2019 was obviously "impressive" for his age, but he was nowhere close to actual title-winning form). Djokovic hung in there.
While this is true, it also seems indisputable to me that Djokovic has a game better equipped to trouble Nadal on decent form on clay than does Federer. Djokovic does have wins against decent versions of Nadal in both Monte Carlo and Rome, whereas Federer does not.
 
People say Federer faced a superior Nadal, that's not quite true. In 2011 Nadal was beatable, as Djokovic himself shown, and Federer failed to take advantage. The same thing in 2005, Nadal was up and coming, Federer was dominating the tour. He had the experience of being a slam winner multiple times while Nadal was going far for the first time at a slam.

To deny that Djokovic is much better than Federer at facing Nadal on clay is ridiculous. Even excluding the two wins, he was closer in 2013 than Federer ever was. In 2012 he was a break up to take it to a fifth, probably closer than Federer ever was too. And in 2014 he was closer as well, or at least somewhat there. Pick Federer's best performance against Nadal and you have several performances by Djokovic that were better or at the same level.

A peak Djokovic, 2011 or 2015, beats a young 2005 Nadal.
What if he doesn't?
 

lisea

New User
Because Federer’s game is not suited to playing long rallying points, which is the common style for clay. Federer game is more closer to Sampras’ game. So with Sampras having no success at the French, it is amazing that Federer won as many matches at the French as he did, plus winning the French.
 
The same reason Roddick, Tsonga, Istomin, and Chung all have wins against Joker at the AO. They caught him when he was physically compromised/out of form.
 

Ventoux

New User
Federer's Wilson 6.1 90 , as used up until 2015, was nothing like the retail version. I'll spare you how I know, but I do. It had a tiny sweet spot and very, very little power. It must have been a real struggle for his backhand against Nadal's high kicking forehands and his spinning serves.
In 2019 Federer had the new racquet, but hadn't played on clay for three years. I thought it remarkable that he even made the semi-final, whatever racquet he used.
 
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wangs78

Hall of Fame
People in this threat keep pointing to Djokovic’s better record against Nadal on clay than Federer. Are they just stupid or willfully ignoring the fact that Fed is 5 years older than Nadal who also happens to be the greatest endurance tennis player in history when he was in his late teens through late 20s. I’m not trying to downplay Djokovic’s success on clay but to say that Djokovic was able to challenge Nadal more than Fed needs to be qualified by the age difference factor.
 

The_Order

G.O.A.T.
That's your logic. If Djokovic only beat below his best Nadal then Bull only beat only below his best Djokovic. Djokovic's best form at RG was in 2015, 2016, 2021 and 2011.
His form at RG in 2015 and 2016 wasn't any better than 2011-2014...

His form in 2021 was quite a bit lower than 2015 and 2016, inherently lower than 2011-2014...

The only thing you are trying to cling to is a specific set of years based on Djokovic either not playing Nadal or playing (statistically and visually) the worst versions of Nadal at RG...

So no, it isn't my logic at all... Novak was at his best at RG from 2011-2016... he lost 5 of those editions... when Nadal plays anywhere near his best at RG he wins the title. Simple as that.

If you want to try and argue that Novak from 2011,15,16 or 21 is anywhere near Nadal's RG level in any year he won his titles good luck, we're done...
 

socallefty

Legend
Federer’s BH is not a GOAT-level shot and he can’t win long crosscourt rallies against a FH in the GOAT-level discussion like Nadal’s lefty FH especially on a slow surface like clay where the server’s advantage is mostly neutralized. Slicing a lot with short angles doesn’t work well as a return strategy or BH staple on a slow, high bouncing surface like clay.

Djokovic has a GOAT BH and can rally comfortably with Nadal on both wings. Djokovic also has a GOAT return which is still effective on clay unlike Federer’s serve. He could comfortably hit DTL and change point patterns to the Nadal BH corner.

It is not complicated when you watch them play live. Discussions of prime years, age, mono etc. is not required.
 
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Daniel Andrade

Hall of Fame
Federer’s BH is not a GOAT-level shot and he can’t win long crosscourt rallies against a FH in the GOAT-level discussion like Nadal’s lefty FH especially on a slow surface like clay where the server’s advantage is mostly neutralized.

Djokovic has a GOAT BH and can rally comfortably with Nadal on both wings. Djokovic also has a GOAT return which is still effective on clay unlike Federer’s serve.

it is not complicated when you watch them play live. Discussions of prime years, age, mono etc. is not required.
Not a fan of federer huh?
 

socallefty

Legend
Not a fan of federer huh?
I’m a fan of Federer. I think he is the 2nd best player I’ve watched play on hard courts and probably the 3rd best player (Borg?) on clay. But, if I don’t say he is the best player ever, too many people here assume I don’t like him.

Djokovic, Federer and Sampras are my top 3 favorite players to watch.
 

Madinolf

Rookie
Djokovic was more consistent than Federer at RG (he reached 1 more final, 3 more semis and 4 more quarterfinals), so he earned more chances to play Nadal.

Federer should've scored at least one win over Nadal in 2005-07 when Nadal was not peak yet as he was still very young.
 
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Ray Mercer

Hall of Fame
Djokovic was more consistent than Federer at RG (he reached 1 more final, 3 more semis and 4 more quarterfinals), so he earned more chances to play Nadal.

Federer should've scored at least one win over Nadal in 2005-07 when Nadal was not peak yet as he was still very young.
Nadal was at his peak athletically from 2005-2007 which was one of the primary reasons Fed struggled so much. Nadal’s defending was incredible during those years. Nadal improved certain aspects of his game after that but his movement was never better than during that time period.
 

ForehandRF

Hall of Fame
Djokovic was more consistent than Federer at RG (he reached 1 more final, 3 more semis and 4 more quarterfinals), so he earned more chances to play Nadal.

Federer should've scored at least one win over Nadal in 2005-07 when Nadal was not peak yet as he was still very young.
You can have a point for 2005-2006, but 2007 Nadal is a whole different story.I mean, who can beat that Nadal, especially on that day, where conditions were perfect for his game ? Watch the highlights again and you'll see how good he was, peak forehand, absurd defence, he was flying all over the court :D
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Djokovic was more consistent than Federer at RG (he reached 1 more final, 3 more semis and 4 more quarterfinals), so he earned more chances to play Nadal.

Federer should've scored at least one win over Nadal in 2005-07 when Nadal was not peak yet as he was still very young.
oh look, Djokomad haplessly ignorant guy thinks 07 Nadal wasn't peak on clay. LOL.
07 RG Nadal would crush your boy Djoko twice over - any version of Djokovic, pal.

05-06 Nadal on clay was also prime.
 

toxicity

New User
In 2020 we saw prime Nadal and 7 months later he was playing with one leg, old, washed, bold Nadal was playing awesome tennis in that semifinal but Djokovic was better. It's not the first time on clay. I can't say the same for Federer.
 

TMF

Talk Tennis Guru
Djokovic schooled Federer in AO 2008 at his peak in straight sets. Just saying ;)
Federer had mono in early 2008 that he was struggling with extreme fatigue, body ache, sweating, etc.
He shouldn't even be playing at the AO

When he recovered, he beat Djokovic decisively at the 2008 USO
 

jltman

Rookie
2011 US Open Semifinal - Federer cracked the screen of his IPhone the night before and was very upset which ruined his form. Would’ve easily won if that didn’t happen
 

Djokodal Fan

Hall of Fame
Federer had mono in early 2008 that he was struggling with extreme fatigue, body ache, sweating, etc.
He shouldn't even be playing at the AO

When he recovered, he beat Djokovic decisively at the 2008 USO
Excuses are always handy for Federer fans. Mono is another excuse. That’s all. He reached semis and baby Djokovic clearly outclassed him in 3 tight sets (not a simple 6-2, 6-3 beat down). Just own the loss and just move on. Any fan base can simple argue about the greatness of their own candidate.
Same Djokovic beat a peaking Federer in 2011 USopen with 2 match points down. The thing I’m trying to say is, it’s always a toss up between djok vs fed. Who ever usually brings their A game wins on that day (Wimbledon 2019 was exception). Federer had his moments 2009 and before and Djokovic has his moments 2010 and later. Let’s not cherry pick one match and say one is better than the other. I just threw AO2008 as an example to show that even baby djok had everything to bring it on. That’s doesn’t deny feds greatness
 

TMF

Talk Tennis Guru
Excuses are always handy for Federer fans. Mono is another excuse. That’s all. He reached semis and baby Djokovic clearly outclassed him in 3 tight sets (not a simple 6-2, 6-3 beat down). Just own the loss and just move on. Any fan base can simple argue about the greatness of their own candidate.
Same Djokovic beat a peaking Federer in 2011 USopen with 2 match points down. The thing I’m trying to say is, it’s always a toss up between djok vs fed. Who ever usually brings their A game wins on that day (Wimbledon 2019 was exception). Federer had his moments 2009 and before and Djokovic has his moments 2010 and later. Let’s not cherry pick one match and say one is better than the other. I just threw AO2008 as an example to show that even baby djok had everything to bring it on. That’s doesn’t deny feds greatness
I don't understand you and other Djoker fans. Do you guys actually believe that Federer had mono had ZERO impact in his game? Or it's a fake story? Come on man. If you watch tennis in 2008 you can see many signs that he was dealing with illness. He was far away from his normal form in 2007.

Fact that he did had mono. Players had mono before him(i.e. Ancic). If you believe his story was a lie is downright sad.

Djokovic didn't beat a healthy Federer that day. He was lucky being at the right time. If he was really good enough to beat a fit Federer, then he shouldn't have lost to Roddick the next year. He also lost to a healthy Federer in 2008 and 2009 USO.
 

lidoazndiabloboi

Hall of Fame
I was really pumped up for Fed and Rafas 2019 FO semis match, especially with Fed coming off a 5 straight win streak from 2017. With Fed going into the clay season with a final at Indian Wells, Win at Miami and QF at Madrid and Rome, he was going into the FO at an all time high. And ad onto that, Rafa's overall slow decline, this was the perfect chance for Fed to get a late career win vs Rafa at Roland Garros.

Sadly, mother nature had other plans. With winds of over 55mph creating dust storms all of the court, the moment they took the court, I knew Fed had 0% chance.
Unlucky for Fed, his match was not postponed, unlikely the following Djokovic Thiem match which was eventually postponed to the following day.
 

goldengate14

Semi-Pro
But in 2012, Djokovic routined Federer at RG. I wouldn't really call it "routined" either. 2 sets were close tiebreaks that could have gone either way.
By then Federer was even more declined though. Basically the moment Federer started struggling with Roddick was the slippery slope.
The Big 3 are so closely match if it all ends like it is now they will be considered equals.
But then after 3 years when young generstion get their way and Majors are bo3 the Big 3 will hardly be talked about and kids will all think Real tennis is short matches and will claim Zverev is GOAT and in 7 years the next new kid gets touted. Sadly way of the world now. Played tennis today with an 16 year old at my club who is in the leagues. Good player. Had brief chat after and he said Fedalovic are ancient and Zverev and Medvedev are the best. He was not joking either!!
 

goldengate14

Semi-Pro
While this is true, it also seems indisputable to me that Djokovic has a game better equipped to trouble Nadal on decent form on clay than does Federer. Djokovic does have wins against decent versions of Nadal in both Monte Carlo and Rome, whereas Federer does not.
Actually over 3 sets you are right. Iber 5 sets Federer has troubled peak Nadal far more than Djokovic did.
 

goldengate14

Semi-Pro
I was really pumped up for Fed and Rafas 2019 FO semis match, especially with Fed coming off a 5 straight win streak from 2017. With Fed going into the clay season with a final at Indian Wells, Win at Miami and QF at Madrid and Rome, he was going into the FO at an all time high. And ad onto that, Rafa's overall slow decline, this was the perfect chance for Fed to get a late career win vs Rafa at Roland Garros.

Sadly, mother nature had other plans. With winds of over 55mph creating dust storms all of the court, the moment they took the court, I knew Fed had 0% chance.
Unlucky for Fed, his match was not postponed, unlikely the following Djokovic Thiem match which was eventually postponed to the following day.
Federer would.have won that in still conditions. Watch that match whenever the wind died down Federer was all over Rafa.
federer game troubles Nadal way more than Djokovic does something Rafa has admitted to in his book in a roundabout way. Without mentioning Novak Rafa has said if Roger is at his best and hittig BH well he has complicated life.
Once recency bias evaporates i suspect Federer will still be the most highly rated player since Laver.
 
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