I came across a wonderful analysis of Nadals success a while back and recently wanted to read it again. Compare it to the other analyses that abound this time of year. I panicked because I couldn’t find it for love nor money.
So I’m recording it here because I will be referring to it plenty in future. The article asks US Open 2013: Is Rafael Nadal the mentally toughest tennis player ever? and centres on the Spaniards immense mental powers instead of his physical powers.
Once you see things in this light I feel you understand the difference between the top 4 and really all players. Many have bigger weapons than the top 4 (Isner, Karlovic and Raonic’s serves anyone) but win the big prizes. Why? They don’t focus on winning the mental battle, they mainly focus on the physical one.
Even then when they do think tactically like Roger with serve and volley they often pick what they like to do instead of what works. I feel defense is the big winner right now. Novak and Rafa defend better than anyone including murray. They do depend on good movement to do so meaning that if they are tired then they are susceptible to the other top 4.
The point is that Fed already has an amazing offence yet he is trying to upgrade it even more. Generally that leaves space around him for Rafa and Novak to hit into. They literally wait for him to attack then get him. Roger can’t match them for defence and until he does he’ll keep feeding their solid games. He’ll win some spectacular points but that’s vanity. He won’t take care of the sanity which is his averages, particularly on the big points aren’t as good. He can’t make the point last until he wins. The longer the point goes the more it favours Rafa or Nadal.
When Rafa and Novak meet this becomes so much clearer because they are so well matched. Neither is a particularly aggressive player compared to Roger, they play pretty routine and safe points. That’s mainly because they seem to understand the numbers better than anyone else. When the big points are and how to win them. By lengthening the points they are literally listening to their opponent for as long as they can until they find out what their weakness is. Then they win the match.
Their patience is not just physical it’s mental.
They keep their heads while others are losing theirs