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Nadal declining....the facts!

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Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by Tenez on Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:01 pm

I am going to expose JS's theory flaws again regarding Nadal playing on the tour since age 16 explaining why he is exhausted and declining!

First let’s put the facts right. Nadal started to become professional in 2001 BUT only played 3 matches in September 2001!!!. So forget about 2001 being a valid year. He effectively started in 2002!

Secondly, the age you become pro has nothing to do with being exhausted or not. The difference might be just the travelling as all players work hard to reach professional levels. You do not decide to work when you decide to become pro. Just to become pro requires lots of hard work to start with. So for instance though Federer may have turned pro 2 years older than Nadal, it does not mean Federer did nothing before. In fact he was also travelling and playing the satellite and juniors extensively, otherwise he would have never had the level to become pro!

Nadal played only 48 pro matches at 16 but while Fed only played 6 but that is not counting all the matches Fed played outside the pro tour….which must have been as tough as they are those which allowed him to be competitive when he arrived on the tour.

One thing we can tell is that from 17-to 27yo  Nadal played 761 matches while Fed had played 789, nearly 30 more matches.

Also it is very important to note that unlike Nadal playing for a few years only half a season (dropping early or not playing at all from USO onwards), while Federer was playing full schedule and doing the extensive travelling and promotion in Asia, Houston, and fighting all the best players in WTF. This is partly what explains Federer played actually 30 more matches in their respective last 10 years.

What a player does before 17 is absolutely irrelevant as the beauty of youth is that one recovers super fast. Pressure and exhaustion really starts with heavy travelling and sponsors contracts pressure….having to deliver in slams and big events…and once again who was the consistent one in the most exhausting matches (slams)? Federer. Does anyone cares comparing the number of slam matches?

Yet Fed now 5 years older than Nadal has played 40% more matches in his legs than Nadal! and is still going strong…giving Djoko much more trouble than Nadal can.

The good thing for Nadal’s fan is that he is not declining at all….certainly not physically and 27 is just the beginning of his best years…..the bad news is that he is going to start that "peak phase" with the wrong game and will not be able to keep up with the youths and reach the next level and will soon be completely overwhelmed by that generation able to hit past him….Like Hewitt, Chang and Borg experienced at the same age roughly.

Nadal's last 10 years               761 
Nadal cumul match     51111159248319404497577658742790872 
Nadal # match   3486048897185938081844882 
Nadal's age1213141516171819202122232425262728
 19981999200020012002200320042005200620072008200920102011201220132014
Federer age1718192021222324252627282930313233
Fed # match65266708095808597778173     
Fed cumul match658124194274369449534631708789      
Federer last 10y          789      


Last edited by Tenez on Sun Feb 22, 2015 5:37 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Correction of Fed's total matches played.)

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by noleisthebest on Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:39 pm

I think "decline" is the wrong and lazy choice of words to try and explain lack of a player's success.
Only the ones who don't work on their game decline, and I have only noticed Tsonga fit that bill recently.

Everybody on the tour is working hard, adding new shots to their game, more serve variation etc...plus, with years come experience and maturing of the game which is why Federer is still playing better and better.
OK, his game needs a bit more fine-tuning esp with the new racquet, plus he has had a bad year health-wise last year, but watching what he does with the ball, the new shots he pulls out all the time is a proof  that players really do not decline at all.
Superficial fans just observe the results and judge everything based on those, but there are so many elements that contribute to why a player struggles at various stages throughout their careers.
To me, Nadal looked as fit as a fiddle yesterday, his shots had tremendous power, it's just that he faced a better player who those shots couldn't hurt at all.
Nadal would have crushed anybody else in that final, he was very keen to win it.
I am afraid all this talk of Nadal's physical dilapidation are just a smoke screen, another safety net for fearful Nadal to fall into and save his face when he loses.
He has exhausted quite a list of various injuries throughout his career, and I even fell for it once....but never again!
The reason he is having closer matches now is because the pack have caught up with fitness.
Nadal is healthy and raring for clay season to start.

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by Tenez on Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:01 pm

Agree...though I do believe there is a physical decline coming either at 30 or 34, especially in those intense conditions nowadays. But if there is decline, in a healthy boidy, it is certainly hardly noticeable. No-one can picture it with a naked eye.  In the 70s seeing Rosewall reaching Wimbledon final at 40 was not that amazing. Impressive yes, but not out of this world. A few years later Connors reach a USO semi at 37 I believe. Very impressive too, especially with his poor game. If people coudl notice Rosewall struggling in that Wimby final at 40....surely no-one coudl see any decline from 29 to 32 let's say...and even less at 27!!!!

At 27/28 a player is only starting to reach his peak. This is what we are seeing with ALL players on tour who did not sustain bad injuries. No one is playing better at 26 than at 27 or 28....not even Tsonga who is constantly hampered by injuries actually. 

There is however this common but could-not-be-more-wrong belief that if you win, you are at your peak, if you lose you are not. 

The fact is up to now...all players have been pushed out of their number 1 spot by players who arived with new technique and technology plus talent and shorten the peak time of previous champions. 

What we saw yesterday is no different. Djoko is now reaching his maturity and Nadal has simply no answer. Not very different from Borg realising that his simple tennis would not be able to keep up with McEnroe talent and new tactics. Federer stopped Hewitt in his tracks, inflicting him mental and physical injuries. Nadal in a way provided a new physical challenge with new string and racquet technology his 90inch racquet and SHBH coudl simply to cope with. Fed remained competitive and under teh right conds coudl bagel Nadal but those occasions were too rare. 

Djoko will also be pushed out before his body gives in. That's the rule in such a competitive sport with so much money.

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by noleisthebest on Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:26 pm

When I follow tennis, I generally try to stay in here and now, as the tour with all its characters is so interesting.

All this declining, negative talk doesn't have place in tennis, and I really don't remember anything similar before Nadal.

But becuse he is such a money making star, commentators sell him and his story - a lot of fans buy it and we have all this ignorance and misunderstanding.

Of course it is natural that new generations come to take over, always exciting to try and spot the next big talent, then sometimes get it right and enjoy following their development and career.

The game has changed so much recently and it keeps changing. I was so surprised with the unexpected effect the super slow court in IW ended up having: designed to help Nadal, it actually backfired!

I think even Nadal has realised that the tour has caught up physically, and that only means he has to get even more physical if he wants to continue his "success". That must be giving him nightmares as he truly does not have talent to draw from and fall back on. He has basically hit the brick wall, but I'll still be keenly watching to see how he tries to solve that problem, esp as so far only an in-form Nole has been able to dominate Nadal.
At the end of last year, I was actually in tennis optimism decline, dreading 2014!
But look how it has turned around.

I do not fear Nole being dethroned whenever it happens, it will be fascinating  to see the next stage of tennis evolution.
I look forward to a new prodigy.
The thing I don't know is how much new technology has affected talent scouting and developing.

Has France completely stopped "manufacturing" SBH players?

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by Tenez on Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:37 pm

noleisthebest wrote:Has France completely stopped "manufacturing" SBH players?
Don't really know. I am pretty sure it's not the end of it. It;s all down again to those pace conds.

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by paulcz on Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:19 pm

noleisthebest wrote:
Has France completely stopped "manufacturing" SBH players?

It is not only France. It is an overal tennis trend. Children want to hit hard as adult and adults expect that from them, Nobody is patient to wait untill a child is strong enough.
I tend to say that SHBH are going to extinct. SHBH's will become like a special kind of players and will be watched like a rate animal in zoo. Only hope how to preserve them is to speed up the game in a large extent.

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by truffin1 on Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:00 pm

Even the decline talk shows the hyperinflated sense of reality that Nadal fans have..    All the handwringing because he lost the AO final.. He's won that tournament ONE Time in his career...  IF anything we saw the usual from Nadal there..     Miami-- Nadas has NEVER won it... he got to the final and fell to a better hardcourt player.   If anything that's the usual from Nadal

I was cracking up realing the Amerit type fans on the comments of the ATP site.. Nadal fans just could not believe he didnt' win Miami.. what happened? he must be hurt?      He's never won Miami guys... big deal. 

Nadal went 2 1/2 years before 2013 without winning 1 single non clay tournament...     He's had two relatively brief runs, parts of 2010 and 2013 where he dominated as an all surface player...    He's never even once been #1 throughout a whole 52 week season- from January to the end...   

My point being- what we are seeing from Nadal is terms of results is more of the same since he entered his prime.   His game hasn't declined, his results haven't declined.  He is what he always was..  or became.  Off of clay, He'll be competitive in most tournaments due to conditions, he'll make the tail end of many, but will only win one here and there...      Now- we do have to see what happens on clay-- results wise we very well may see a decline there- but it will be because the players around him have gotten better, have more belief-- same thing happened to Federer, same thing happened to every great.

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by Tenez on Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:14 pm

Yes Truffin....the main thing is that it is not all about Nadal. Djoko played one of the best match of his life, like Stan in that AO final....and we know that even when Djoko was far from his best he was still causing Nadal problems....even on clay, even in 2007 when Djoko was only 20.
 
Today we clearly saw the difference in talent as the difference in fitness was much harder to gauge. I expect more players will overtake that physical challenge Nadal brought to the courts and then their talent will simply make an easy difference.
 
Very similar to the Fed/Hewitt match up. Hewitt had the better of Fed as long as the physical gap was big....as soon as the physical gap narrowed, Fed became 10 times better.
 
 
This why it was a blow for nadal yesterday, he realised his fitness was never going to be enough from now, he simply did not have the shots, not a BH, not a FH (which I always said was poor), not a serve and poor returns too.
He was hoping Djoko would tire so Djoko would be dragged into a physical battle, Nadal's only chance, But Djoko kept rallies relatively short and when he did not he made sure only Nadal was doing the running.
 
This loss is going to have severe repercussions for Nadal.

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by truffin1 on Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:15 pm

Tenez wrote:Yes Truffin....the main thing is that it is not all about Nadal. Djoko played one of the best match of his life, like Stan in that AO final....and we know that even when Djoko was far from his best he was still causing Nadal problems....even on clay, even in 2007 when Djoko was only 20.
 
Today we clearly saw the difference in talent as the difference in fitness was much harder to gauge. I expect more players will overtake that physical challenge Nadal brought to the courts and then their talent will simply make an easy difference.
 
Very similar to the Fed/Hewitt match up. Hewitt had the better of Fed as long as the physical gap was big....as soon as the physical gap narrowed, Fed became 10 times better.
 
 
This why it was a blow for nadal yesterday, he realised his fitness was never going to be enough from now, he simply did not have the shots, not a BH, not a FH (which I always said was poor), not a serve and poor returns too.
He was hoping Djoko would tire so Djoko would be dragged into a physical battle, Nadal's only chance, But Djoko kept rallies relatively short and when he did not he made sure only Nadal was doing the running.
 
This loss is going to have severe repercussions for Nadal.

I thought the Monte Carlo loss would have greater repercussions for Nadal last year-- but he shook it off.. The confidence modern medical science can give some of these guys is an amazing thing.  The Spanish might just come up with a new potion that gives him so edge.    

You are correct though-  I am not as far over the "Nadal has no talent " belief as some on here, but clearly and anyone who really understands Tennis know- he is not and never has been the most talented or even amongst the top handful of talents.  Modern tech, a perplexing and unique style, and conditions combined with extreme physicality is what created the Nadal success.

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by Tenez on Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:54 pm

I am not a "Nadal-has-no-talent" because I am not a fan of Nadal, my view is purely based on logic, observation and more importantly results.

People tend to think irrationally: "He has 13 slams therefore he is as close talent wise as Federer or even twice as talented as McEnroe who has half the number of slams". 

Sport does not work like that. Professional tennis players have all some talent, mental strength and fitness. Nowadays fitness is almost everything. I am not sure if you play tennis but if you run right and left on a tennis court in a 20 shot rally, your talent is simply gone (at club level for sure and at professonal without drugs). The UEs will creep in and you will have no other choice but play with bigger margins, which means keeping on rallying. This is what we have experienced so many times between fed and Nadal. How many times did Federer start the stronger between the 2? ...yet ended nackered with a loss at the end?

This is Nadal's game, able to kill talent almost versus all his opponents, especially on slower surfaces....speed things up and you will find the most amazing results.....and losing to people ranked lower than 50 is no surprise at all.

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by truffin1 on Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:08 pm

Tenez wrote:I am not a "Nadal-has-no-talent" because I am not a fan of Nadal, my view is purely based on logic, observation and more importantly results.

People tend to think irrationally: "He has 13 slams therefore he is as close talent wise as Federer or even twice as talented as McEnroe who has half the number of slams". 

Sport does not work like that. Professional tennis players have all some talent, mental strength and fitness. Nowadays fitness is almost everything. I am not sure if you play tennis but if you run right and left on a tennis court in a 20 shot rally, your talent is simply gone (at club level for sure and at professonal without drugs). The UEs will creep in and you will have no other choice but play with bigger margins, which means keeping on rallying. This is what we have experienced so many times between fed and Nadal. How many times did Federer start the stronger between the 2? ...yet ended nackered with a loss at the end?

This is Nadal's game, able to kill talent almost versus all his opponents, especially on slower surfaces....speed things up and you will find the most amazing results.....and losing to people ranked lower than 50 is no surprise at all.
oh I agree completely-- his fans have misunderstood his success for years...  and certainly the conditions are the key for him..   

I do think he has a high level of talent though- just not on the level that most other greats have.  Now that talent is absolutely been enhanced by PEDs- there is no doubt about that..   If just left to his natural self-- I can agree he would not be near the same in any aspect of his game-   that is clear.

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by Tenez on Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:04 pm

So what is his talent (innate skill) then? 

he moves well, no doute....but that is largely helped by strong legs...yet I am happy to concede he has some moving talent. 

But I do not find his ball striking great at all. Yes he can hit the ball hard and manouevre the raquet quite well thanks again to his strong arms, but from what I say above, despite having all this power, he has:

- an average serve (just annoying due to the sheer spin)  but lacks precision and extra pace for such power

- average returns (helped hugely by the fact he can stand back and compensate for lack of quick hands with great mobility),

-  FH is constantly hit with huge margins (so clearly not a sign of talent). If that power was coupled with a bit more precision , he would hit winners after each FH....which clearly is not the case. 

- good hands at the net when it needs controlling the ball but then again huge advantage of handling the racquet like I handle a pingpong bat. We saw last night on the match point how average was his drop shot also. 

If Nadal had more talent, with his fitness hed have overtaken Federer's slam count by now and would be nearly unbeatable. Problem is that he is using his natural hand.

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by Daniel on Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:28 pm

He's got very good footwork, he has massive strength and will, and he is the best defender the game has seen.  That's the positives.  But all of those things are not raw talent like being able to dictate a point rather than wait for an error, or artistry, or genius.

That's what Nadal fans can't grasp.  His style of play should be successful on clay, but it's been allowed to spill onto all surfaces.

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by truffin1 on Tue Apr 01, 2014 12:55 am

I thinks it's just a matter of definition- some label things as talent that other don't.

I'm certainly not defending nadal, but it could be argued that an avg serve, avg return, etc on the pro tour level requires talent. It's all a meaningless argument to me though because we know nadal is doped, cheats through coaching, etc. That is clear. So anything he does, any talent he has is tainted. The only real debate - taking the conditions out of the equation- is where would nadal rank if he was clean and played by the rules. I think some here think he'd rank in the 200's. I don't know as I simply can't tell what the natural nadal is- but I would agree he would not be anywhere near the player people think he is. Is his natural physicality, movement, style enough to keep him top 20? Perhaps- whole others say no way.

Speaking of talent- a snippet of interview with litho:

Lüthi: Both have worked very hard for their success, had to invest a lot to end up where they are. This also applies to Roger. With him, you always see only the talent, natural talent, best talent all time, but this intensity with which he runs his profession, people often forget. Without this attitude could hardly remain so many years without serious injury and time off. The basis for this is backed by hard work and commitment. Stan I admire how tough he is. He's always got up after all these setbacks and setbacks, has been trying to find a way up. It was a great pleasure for me, as he held the trophy in Australia in the height. This was the culmination of a busy career.

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by Tenez on Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:52 am

truffin1 wrote:I thinks it's just a matter of definition-  some label things as talent that other don't.
Sure and I used to consider all talents more or less equal in tennis (Borg footwork as well as McEnroe's hands) but the sport has evolved physically so much over the last 10 years that we cannot distinguish what is innate and what is not. When we see a Murray or a Djokovic who were never known for their movement and stamina young suddenly becoming amongst the top 3 with a healthy margin, it's clear that training and science (legal or not, it is irrelevant here) can largely make up for any lack of talent in the fitness department. I am therefore only considering ball striking talent. This is the one which matters in tennis cause my view is that on faster surfaces, the movement/stamina would be a tiny bit less important while ball striking would be considerably more so. A bit like Wimbledon used to have talented players doing well on grass and clay was essentially for athletic players....though that was true up to mid 90s as towards the end of the 90s ball strikers had largely overcome the Bruguera, Wilander and other Berasategui at the FO too.
 
I'm certainly not defending nadal, but it could be argued that an avg serve, avg return, etc on the pro tour level requires talent.  It's all a meaningless argument to me though because we know nadal is doped, cheats through coaching, etc. That is clear.  So anything he does, any talent he has is tainted.  The only real debate - taking the conditions out of the equation- is where would nadal rank if he was clean and played by the rules. I think some here think he'd rank in the 200's.  I don't know as I simply can't tell what the natural nadal is- but I would agree he would not be anywhere near the player people think he is.  Is his natural physicality, movement, style enough to keep him top 20? Perhaps- whole others say no way.
I do not base my views on whether Nadal is doped on not as explained above. Just on what he does with the ball when he gets to it. To me he is scared of going for winners or simply not used to. His advantage is that he is so powerful that his loopy shots, though not meant to be winners are difficult to attack. And that to me is power not talent. as simple as that. It might be part of a strategy to secure a win as the match goes on (tiring the opponent) but the fact is that when he is losing be it v Djoko or anyone else, he does not have the choice to add pace and shorten the points as we saw clearly on Sunday. That to me is the proof in the pudding that he simply is limited in terms of what he does with the ball.
 
It all adds up to me. Seeing him unable to win when his physique is not 100%, even losing against much lowest ranked players despite his 90% physical form being largely superior than his lower ranked opponents, is the proof that he cannot compensate with his shots a niggle which all players have. Likewise with his mental strength. He is very very strong when physically 110% but becomes very weak mentally when not 100% or when the conds are not suitable for him. We saw in that AO final, or Wimbledon 1st round how poor his mental strength can be when his physique slightly drops....cause he knows he has nothing else to drop back to. Many other players keep fighting, don't lose focus and  And this leads to my main point about Nadal struggling to make the top 50 of this current ATP  ranking talent wise. It's the fact margins are very thin between the top 50 players, if not 100 players. The top 10 players have weapons and those weapons are key for their rankings. Like Serving was key to Pete in winning 14 slams on fast courts. On clay where his serve was deadly but just not as much, he won 0 slams and only managed a semi or 2. we see Djoko, Murray, Nadal and Federer struggle often v top 50, they often lose a set and so on. Margins are tight but their weapons almost see them through. Djoko, Murray and much more so Nadal, their weapon is their physique and stamina. When this fitness drop slightly we see the most amazing results versus the top 50. With Federer, he can still be ranked number 8 with a bad back. Nadal would not bother playing and take a 9 months break!

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by Tenez on Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:59 am

If he had Davydenko, Gasquet, Nishi, Dimi, Gulbis talent coupled with his movement and power, he would be unbeatable.

Another point is that despite what says Amri he is not even using his natural (innate) talented arm to play tennis. It would be amazing that his LH talent, non natural hand, were to be ranked amongst the top 10 in history. What would have been his natura arm then?

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by noleisthebest on Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:59 pm

Thanks for the posts and this thread, T, it really is essential reading for all who want to have a clear understanding of modern tennis.
Once you comprehend the mechanics of how Nadal operates and what makes him successful, everything and everyone else on tour falls into a very logical place.
I wonder how long you'd survive as a paid tennis analyst...

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by Tenez on Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:09 pm

Winking thanks NTB. 

I think all players and coaches know this. Fed described it long ago in straight terms: 

"One dimensional but never underestimate the physical side of Nadal's game" or "what is does is quite simple but he does it very well". 

Only fans want to see more than there is to it. Or rather they want to see what is most prized "talent" and wish to disregard the physical side.

How many times have we heard Nadal fans say : "Nadal is the most powerful player with best stamina?"  Not many times have we?

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by noleisthebest on Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:14 pm

Yes, now I see why you kept talking about talent all these years...a topic that is thorn in the flesh for many, indeed!
It's so interesting how a lot of people/fans misunderstand it, and how much it irritates them.

It's not enough that Nadal won 13 slams...he has to have done it with talent as well!

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by Tenez on Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:28 pm

Yes cause talent is the thing that cannot be copied. One can always learn how to get fitter, how to train, but talent? impossible.

That's why we had Nadal with the most amzing fitness, one is century fitness...now we have 2 players pretty close to him....but who got closer to Federer talent wise? not that many, isn't it?

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by noleisthebest on Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:31 pm

True, and what's even more fascinating is to have the one-off talent and one-off fitness specimen in the same era...like heaven and hell!

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Re: Nadal declining....the facts!

Post by Tenez on Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:45 pm

yes...though...it's always been like that.....Even in the 80s/90s despite having fast conds, you had those who could deliver consistency, especially under pressure (Pete, Becker) v the more talented who usually crumbled under pressure (Agassi/Ivanisevic). So it was not not physique v talent....it was learnt skills v innate skills...another form hell v heaven. When Ivanisevic had a good day he was way better than Pete....but as soon as pressure stepped in, big moments, like Wimby finals, it was Goran's serve (certainly the more talented serve of the 2) which was faltering first.

Fed is the only talented player who could deliver under pressure....McEnroe too but lost quite a few times his mind in important matches.

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