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Matchups in Tennis?

Discussion in 'Sports Bar' started by Naemlis Orez, Jan 27, 2019.

  1. Naemlis Orez

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    I heard some commentator recently make mention of matchups playing a significant role in results. This caught my attention

    Now im not too well-versed on the various styles employed by players, but here is what I have found thus far:
    • Roger
    > Self Skill: Predictive Analysis
    > Tool Skill: Trick Shots

    • Novak
    > Self Skill: Momentous Movement
    > Tool Skill: Accurate Shots

    • Rafael
    > Self Skill: Controlled Movement
    > Tool Skill: Power Shots

    So Novak hits the.ball to the far corners, forcing.the.opponent to run themselves ragged. Then he.finishes.them off with.a chamge.of direction, relying.on their built up momentum to lead them astray. He defends with.his own good foot movement, relying.on momentum to save.his energy as well as getting him in a good position to sweetly strike.the ball w/o exposing his lack of power.

    Roger uses his PA to move in line.with.the ball before.it gets away from him. He.then.uses his TS to turn any momentum his.opponent has against them . . .

    Rafael uses his CM to limit.the build.up of.momentum when defending, while his PS are deadly even if opponents can reach them . . .

    . . . So Roger and Rafael should be hellish matchups for.Novak, yet.he is beating.them both!
    Rafael has the power to expose his physical weakness and.the movement to deny his strategic shots
    Roger has.the mind to cover.the ball before.it.gets far and.the shot maatery to beat.momentum-based movement

    Yet.he.is no only competing but actually beating them both!

    What am I missing?
    What other matchups are.there, wherein the style of one player makes them a particularly tough opponent for another?
     
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  2. Schneider

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    From a decade ago but still pretty good read if you like these things.

    Styles in tennis are defined by era, and nowadays it's very fluid so you can't really confine each player to a type of play (i.e net/aggresive vs. baseline/defensive). All players have offense and defense and plays accordingly to court dynamics at hand. For a very basic example, djokovic is scrambling for a slice to get to a nadal cross court forehand (defense), bought time and set up a proper topspin counter to another forehand (neutral), then once rafa replied with a shorter ball, novak finishes with a down the line backhand or a sharp cross court (offense). Being incomplete in this era won't take anyone far especially with modern strings, balls and court homogenization.

    However, there are certain aspects of the game that players tend to do slightly better, i.e nadal and murray are brilliant defensive shotmakers (lobs, drop shots, forehand on the run), djokovic is impeccable in baseline dynamics/offensive baseline play (using depth to gain control/put himself out of defensive position) and federer the best at relentless pressure and transitive play. But in high level tennis (esp. The big 4) if you ask them to perform anything outside their natural inclinations (like federer defense/nadal offense) they'll give you nothing short of world class performance

    Also matchups are mostly mental, everyone in the top 100 has the tools to beat anyone, but surface, injury, a particularly bad day, etc. can also be a factor. Nadal yesterday was one big display of fear, reminiscent of young federer & nadal clay days.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2019
  3. Pocalypse

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    Depth of Novak's ballstriking, his returns and his backhand.

    Novak rarely outpowers Nadal so he strikes with consistent depth and placement instead. This pushes Nadal back past the baseline and allows Novak to come on top of the baseline or inside the baseline to dictate rallies, then he finishes it off with a winner.

    Returns - When Nadal or Federer serve, Novak returns the ball right next to their feet or close to the baseline as possible which forces the player who's in an offensive position to go defensive, this results in a short ball or a miss since it's coming back at you so deep.

    Or he hits an outright winner from it.

    Backhand - Novak's backhand is one of the greatest backhands in Tennis, ever. Nadal has a field day with backhands, Nadal loves going to players backhands and breaking it down but Novak's backhand is probably the only one that can go toe-to-toe with Nadal's forehand. He can hit winners, change direction in an instant which not a lot of people can do, anything with it. He's rock solid with it.

    Of course, all of this along with mentality, physicality, movement, stamina, decent serve, a good forehand etc

    Oh and surface is a factor as well.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2019
  4. Naemlis Orez

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    Indeed, surfaces

    I would expect Novak to suffer on a bouncy hard court (bounce gives opponemt more time to react)

    I would expect Federer to suffer on slippery grass (pushes dropshots forwards, as opposed to keeoing them close to net)

    I would expect Nadal to suffer on the rolling clay (ball stays low, making it difficult to hit power shots within the court)

    Yet clearly not

    So did WikiPedia not explain the surfaces properly or am I missing even more?
     
  5. Pocalypse

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    I dunno about Wikipedia but a lot of that info is wrong.

    There's no such thing as bouncy hard courts. You have fast, medium or slow hard courts. On fast hard courts you can hit more winners, get more free points of the serve and rallies will be less. The ball flies more on a fast hard court if that's what you mean. Slow is the opposite. You can do all of the things as you can on a fast court but less, opponents have more time to get to the ball.

    Federer has the best footwork of any Tennis player so he isn't going to suffer on grass. Also Tennis players in general wear different shoes for different surfaces otherwise everyone would be slipping on grass lol

    On clay the ball DOES NOT stay low. It stays high and that's why people implement topsin to get more power into their shots because the courts are slow. Nadal is the GOAT at this. Moreover, if the weather is hot and sunny, the clay will make topspin shots even more powerful.
     
  6. Joe Maya

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    Let's say it's Prince of Tennis.


    Roger - Data Tennis + High Skill ( Yukimura )

    Nadal - Power + Speed ( Sanada )

    Djokovic - Mimic Tennis + Read the Game ( Niou )
     
  7. Snowless Moderator

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    Maybe this can clarify a bit.

    On clay, the ball bounces a lot after it lands and slows down significantly. As a rally goes on, it also accumulates clay and the effect becomes more pronounced. This leads to long baseline rallies and requires good lateral movement and stamina. Grass is faster and the balls bounce a lot less. It's harder to sustain rallies on grass and it favors volleyers and big servers, because they can end points faster and it's more likely you'll get a bad bounce at some point and make an unforced error, if a point goes on for a while. Hardcourt occupies a spectrum of speed and bounces, but is generally in the middle of the other two.

    Federer is best at the net and when keeping points short and has the best short-ball recognition and forward movement. He doesn't want to get into prolonged rallies. He hugs the baseline when playing, which takes time away from his opponents, it's a high-risk-high-reward strategy, so he's the most error prone of the three. Taking time away from his opponents works best on fast surfaces where the ball doesn't bounce much. He also has a one-handed backhand, which allows him a lethal slice-backhand and a good dropshot, which both work best on low-bouncing courts. Therefore, his best surfaces are grass and fast hardcourt. His serve is also the best of the three, particularly in terms of placement (he's also good at hiding where he's going to hit the serve until the last second), but on clay, since the ball slows down after it bounces, his serve is the least effective. He also has the worst stamina of the three, so clay is his worst surface.

    Rafa has a very unique game. He plays with immense amounts of topspin, which causes his balls to crash into the court, then fly up again. This tends to pin players back on the baseline and forces a lot of errors in his opponents. However, this works best on slow, high bouncing courts, as lower bouncing courts like grass mitigate the effect of this strategy. He also is a lefty, which makes him harder to play just based on patterns. Players are used to playing righties, so a shot that would normally go to someone's backhand will now go to their forehand. Whereas lefties are used to playing righties, so the patterns are more intuitive for them. Rafa also has phenomenal stamina and is quick. In essence, he's best on slow hardcourt and clay and worst on fast hardcourt and grass, the opposite of Federer.

    Djovokic is very consistent, but absolutely has the ability to inject pace, particularly on his backhand-down-the-line. Down-the-line shots are more difficult than crosscourt ones, as you have to hit over the higher part of the net and have less room to work with. But, they leave the opponent less time to react and are more likely to be winners than crosscourt shots. He's also really, really good at reading serves and his insane flexibility lets him contort his body into awkward positions to return difficult serves and stay in points. He's a bit more similar to Nadal in that he prefers slower surfaces, but his best is slow hardcourt. He has really good movement, all around, and great stamina, too. He's not as good on grass as Fed and not as good on clay as Rafa, but on hardcourt, he's probably the best. While Federer and Rafa's best shots are their forehands, Djokovic's is his backhand. Fed's backhand breaks down when attacked a lot, and Djokovic's forehand can do the same. Djokovic also has a really error-prone overhead.

    Now, why do players do well against each other? It depends on the play styles, as well as the surface.

    The easiest comparison is Federer-Nadal. Rafa is a nightmare matchup for Fed. Fed likes to try to close the net and hugs the baseline as close as possible? That's really hard to do against Nadal's insane topspin, particularly when it's easy for Nadal to hit crosscourt forehands to Federer's backhand and weakest side because he's a lefty. And on clay, which exacerbates the bounce and gives Rafa enough time to play defense when Federer attacks, it's almost impossible for Fed to beat him. Rafa's serve is a little weak, though, which hurts him on grass, where a good serve can give you a lot of free points. The matchup still isn't good for Fed on grass or fast hardcourt, but they play to his strengths and he has a much better chance of winning there.

    Now, Federer-Djokovic. Federer is a great server, Djokovic is a great returner. Slow courts give Djokovic more time to react to the serve, though. Djokovic also has great defense, and while Federer plays more offensively, it's hard for him to hit enough great shots to win points, as Djokovic will just keep returning them (a similar, but slightly less pronounced dynamic happens between Fed and Nadal, in this respect). So again, fast courts that reward aggression help Federer, but slow courts that reward defense help Djokovic. An interesting dynamic is that each player's crosscourt shot goes from their strength to the opponent's weakness (Djokovic's backhand to Fed's and Fed's forehand to Djokovic's). But Djokovic's signature up-the-line backhand goes to Fed's weakness, while helps him in the matchup. Federer also uses his slice to great effect, but Djokovic is so flexible, he can get low and return a lot of them. On faster courts, it's much harder for Djokovic to utilize all of these tactics, though.

    Djokovic-Nadal. They both play great defense and have played some grueling marathons. Nadal's lefty advantage is mitigated a lot here, as instead of his crosscourt forehand going to a weak wing, it goes to Djokovic's strength. Rafa's slightly vulnerable serve can also be exploited well by Djokovic who can therefore get into a lot of points. Djokovic's form is also a little closer to prototypical, while Rafa's is quite odd, and probably leads him to frame a few more balls now and again. On clay, Rafa is still better, as it requires a unique type of lateral movement and special footwork at which he's just unparalleled, but in general, Djokovic gets the nod in the matchup, I'd say.

    tl;dr Federer is best on fast surfaces, particularly grass, while Djokovic and Rafa prefer slow surfaces: slow hardcourt and clay, specifically. Rafa is a really bad match up for Federer and Djokovic is a slightly bad matchup for both Federer and Nadal. Overall, I'd say the surface matters most, though, as each would probably be favored to win most matchups on their surface of choice.


    As an aside, Federer is a little unlucky that grass and faster hardcourt are the more rare surfaces, while clay and to a greater extent, slow hardcourt, are the surfaces that currently dominate the tour. When Federer was starting out, hardcourt tended to be faster, but they've slowed them down a lot over the years, and nowadays most tournaments play to Djokovic and Nadal's strengths.
     
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