It first happened in the US Open 2009. Rafael Nadal got beat pretty bad by Juan Martin Del Potro who later went on to clinch the Us Open title. Even though Rafa was injured in that match there was something I just could not get out of my head, Nadals gameplan. What was his gameplan? To feed Del Potro with short topspins to allow him to come in and attack with his huge forehand? I would like to think that Rafa is a smart player, I mean it has to take some of it to become a No. 1 ranked player in the ATP Worldtour, but he didn't do anything to take Del Potro out of his comfort zone.
But hey, he was injured right? Don't give the man too much of a hard time when he could not play at his best.
What about the Beijing 2009 Semifinals against Marin Cilic then? I saw that match and I was completely shocked by how Rafa got dominated for two straight sets and at the same time very impressed by Marins game and how well it has developed. The only thing that really halted him was the mental aspect of his game.
Marin Cilic seems to have a hard time finnishing the matches, especially when serving for match. Cilic dominated Rafa with power, with deep groundstrokes and seemed to have an answer for everything Rafa had to offer both of his forehand and backhand side.
So What is Rafa going to do in order to be able to win against these tall, strong players who often have huge serves aswell? I think that he has to get them out of their own comfortzones and mix up his game a little more. I did not see him hit one single drop during the whole match, sure that is not Rafas game but he has to try new things in order to keep up with these guys. How about hitting an approach shot and comming to the net? Even if you don't succeed, you are letting your opponent know that you are for real and that you are going to do anything to beat him, that gets into their head and hopefully gives you a mental edge, at the same time it forces them to hit passing shots, it forces them out of their comfortzone and perhaps makes the opponent go for too much. It seems that Rafas usually, pressuring heavily topspinned forehands are the perfect shots to go after for these tall players, they are completely feeding off it.
What do you guys think Rafa is doing wrong? And what do you think about Marin Cilic? Is he a future Top5 player?