Monte-Carlo R2 previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Edmund, Murray vs. Muller

Rafael Nadal will kick off his bid for a 10th Monte-Carlo title on Wednesday, when he sees Kyle Edmund on the other side of the net. The second-round schedule is also highlighted by Andy Murray’s opener against Gilles Muller.

Kyle Edmund vs. (4) Rafael Nadal

Nadal will be playing for the first time since losing the Miami final to Roger Federer when he takes the court against Edmund during second-round action at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Wednesday. The seventh-ranked Spaniard is still in search of his first title this season, but he is second behind Federer in the race to the World Tour Finals. Nadal also finished runner-up at the Australian Open and the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in addition to his Miami performance.

Edmund set up a first-ever showdown against this week’s No. 4 seed by beating fellow Brit Dan Evans 7-5, 6-1 on Monday. The 22-year-old has climbed to 45th in the rankings (five spots off his career-high) thanks in part to eight ATP-level match victories during the 2017 campaign. Unfortunately for Edmund, this is just about the worst possible second-round draw he could have been dealt. Not only is Nadal 58-4 lifetime in Monte-Carlo with nine titles, but he is also 19-2 against players not named Federer this season–and Edmund sure isn’t Federer.

Pick: Nadal in 2 losing 5-7 games

(1) Andy Murray vs. Gilles Muller

Murray has played his part in an alarming, injury-plagued slump for the top two men in the world this season–or perhaps “not played” would be more accurate. Both Murray and Djokovic skipped Miami with elbow injuries, so the top-ranked Scot has not taken the court since losing his Indian Wells opener to Vasek Pospisil in early March.

Up first for Murray in Monte-Carlo on Wednesday is a sixth career meeting with Muller, who is a hopeless 0-5 in the head-to-head series. Murray, 11-2 in total sets at the Luxembourgian’s expense, most recently cruised 6-3, 6-2 at the 2015 Canada Masters. The two veterans have never faced each other on clay, which is the worst surface for both players–but especially for Muller. That being said, the world No. 28 earned his place in this matchup with an impressive 6-2, 6-2 rout of Tommy Robredo on Tuesday. Murray, though, has never had any trouble breaking down big servers–Muller included–and he should do the same in this one as long he is close to 100 percent.

Pick: Murray in 2

113 Comments on Monte-Carlo R2 previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Edmund, Murray vs. Muller

  1. Edmund was not waiting for Rafa to hit short. He was taking the ball early and making it happen. He earned that break by going for his shots and not giving Rafa time.

          • Fourth winner to break at love came after a weak second serve, a short ball return inside the service box, and a final return three feet inside the baseline.

            So Rafa did nothing to deserve that service game against any opponent.

            Thanks NNY but VR confirmed my guess was right about Rafa hitting short.

            Just went into TennisTV to confirm.

  2. Rafa playing so tentative and not looking for a winner much and just wait for his opponent to make an error..poor strategy IMO and very risky..

  3. Rafa will always be vulnerable to be have tough matches against players like Edmund. But most of the time he will still successfully break them down in the end, because he’s Rafa.

    • He’ll have to do waaaaaay better vs Sascha.

      (Assuming he can actually serve this one out which is no given when he is like this.)

  4. Assuming Rafa comes through this one, fighting through tough matches like this on clay should only bring him more and more confidence as he goes on.

  5. Kyle is hitting so hard and moving forward whilst Rafa is being pushed back and made to run from side to side. I thought Rafa is usually the one making his opponents run on clay?

    • Rafa will have to play a lot better against Zverev! Hopefully getting this first match out of the way will help Rafa.

      • Hopefully he won’t hit so many short balls (like he did in the deciding set getting broken at love).

        • I am not betting on 2 sets against Zverev. I don’t think it’s going to be easy. Rafa will have to raise his level of play for sure.

  6. Phew, finally!

    Please Rafa, plays with more aggressions, please! I blame Toni for making life difficult for Rafa, when Rafa has all the tools to be a very aggressive and attacking player. He now has to work so hard to win, esp nowadays more and more players are playing big serving, hard hitting and going for short points and outright winners kind of tennis.

    The way to beat Rafa on clay is to play aggressive and go for broke! This is so far Rafa’s worst start at MC since a long time ago!

    A Zverev is liking his chances tomorrow.

    • They said on the tennis channel that this is the first time that Rafa has ever dropped a set in his first match. I sm just glad that he got the win. It doesn’t get easier because Rafa is the one they want to beat as the King of Clay.

      It was concerning to see Edmund dictating the points and getting the better court positioning against Rafa.

    • The problem with Rafa is that he has lost speed. It maybe miniscule but at elite levels it can make all the difference between kissing the lines or going out. It looks as if Rafa is not anticipating so well but actually it is decline in speed and not decline in anticipation.

      • However he seems determined so unless he gets injured, I am confident Rafa will win RG. As for MC, if he runs into a determined Nole or Muzz wanting to fight a marathon battle as Nole did in Madrid in 2009, he will let them win. But I think neither Nole nor Muzz is likely to prioritize this so it is very likely that Rafa will get his 10th MC.

      • oh come on, you are really exaggerating the speed factor. So if he starts kissing the lines tomorrow against Zverev, are we to believe he has regained speed in a day? It could (quite likely is a factor) but his issue are stemming from something else.

        • I am surprised you are making this post, vr. Not logical at all.
          Footwork and position are essential for accuracy. Just because some FHs kiss the lines doesn’t mean Rafa has regained his top speed. If you compare the number of errors he makes with his forehand these days as compared to his prime, you can see that it is significant and largely due to being not quite in position or being rushed into imperfect footwork.
          I already pointed out to hawkeye, our armchair doctor/psychiatrist, that hitting great forehands in practice doesn’t translate to great forehands in matches because of fall in speed resulting in being rushed into hitting the forehands from out of position or being rushed into untidy footwork.

        • The fallacy in your post, vr, is in concluding that I am saying he has lost speed after watching one match. No, I am making the statement after watching him over two years. Now he has to keep kissing the lines in a significant number of matches for me to conclude he has regained his speed. So . no, even if he makes fantastic forehands against Zverev, I will not say he has regained his speed till he does it consistently in many matches.

          • He will never recover 100% of his speed from 10 years ago.

            It’s not realistic, nor is it necessary.

            Any minor loss in speed can be adjusted for like other greats such as Agassi and Federer did.

            His confidence is all he needs.

            He looked great in Australia prior to the final. He will do fine with that level alone, especially on clay.

            • It is not minor for an elite. He would have beaten Fed at AO if his forehand had worked like before which it did not because of fall in speed. Let us see how his forehand works on clay. As clay is a slower surface, forehand may work better than on HC. At least I hope so.

            • It is minor in the context of what I said.

              Rafa lost to Fed very similarly to how he lost to Djoko in 2012 AO deciding set up a break and having a mental lapse in the fifth.

              In 2012 because he was feeling the pressure of finally solving Nole after many losses in 2011.

              In 2017 because he was feeling the pressure of finally solving the crippling anxiety along with injuries that stopped him from winning slams for almost three years.

            • He was physically in a position to win both.

              He hasn’t played near as well after losing the AO final other than a couple of matches.

            • And one needs to look no further than the game that Rafa was broken to live in the third set where he played tentative and hitting short when not under pressure in the rally.

              It had nothing to do with speed as he wasn’t even chasing down balls.

              100% mental.

            • Physically his speed has come down. His forehand is not as reliable as before because he is forced to hit it from less than the ideal position. Mental depends on his physical state. If he can trust his body to play as he wants, confidence is not an issue.

            • I go by the difference I see in Rafa between how he plays from behind vs how he plays with a lead.

              It is very different from that comparison when he plays with confidence.

              We just have differing takes obviously.

            • Agassi is a special case. Anyone who reads his autobiography knows that the main factor in his late resurgence was simply motivation.

              Federer was following the same downward trajectory as Nadal in 2011-13 until he switched rackets in early 2014. Also, his game is more attack-oriented and never depended on foot-speed to the extent that Nadal’s does.

  7. One thing about Rafa, he tends to struggle when playing against a player for the first time – Nishioka, Kyle, A Zverev (at IW last year); Kyrgios at Wimbledon; Dustin Brown; Rosol….

    He just can’t play with all guns blazing when facing a player for the first time and has to make life difficult for himself! Had he continued or maintained his focus in the second set and not letting Kyle broke back after losing serve, Rafa would be winning the match comfortably, maybe 6-0, 6-3 or 6-4 and saved himself an hour or so of time and energy to rest and prepare for his next match.

    As always, he does things the long way, no short cuts, and it’s taking its toll on his body and mind. I think all his potential opponents here will take notice of this match and play like Kyle does, whether it’s their natural way of playing or not; Rafa’s life is getting very tough here!

    I remember when Ferrer played against Rafa on clay, Ferrer just went all out attack, Monfils did that too in last year’s final, for a set and won that set. Rafa is allowing his opponents to dictate play and thus has to work so hard to win, typical counter puncher mentality.

    • It is true that Rafa tends to have a tough time when he plays someone for the first time.

      It is unfortunate to see him having to go free sets in this match. He let Edmund into this match after getting the first set bagel. Rafa is making it hard for himself by having to stay on the court longer.

  8. I just wonder,if he keep playing like this,can he survive Novak,Andy or wawa in semis or final?Is he still got a leg to pull a win later?Clay or not?

    • no he won’t keep playing like this. If he somehow does, then he will be out. He has played better on hard courts even so I am hopeful he will better on clay. If he wins tomorrow, it will be a crucial victory.

      • But VR, everyone is playing aggressive tennis these days, esp seeing Rafa across the net. Zverev, Dimi, Monfils and Fed at the AO, Querrey at Acapulco and now Kyle; life is getting tougher and tougher for a player like Rafa.

        I mean I just can’t understand Rafa’s mentality these days, why when he sees a player like Kyle hitting hard and aggressively, he just gives Kyle so much space or scope to play his game?.

        Rafa in 2010 was also entering MC without winning a title in ten months,but back then, he played with aggression despite not being confident with himself or his game. He simply swept everyone away in that tournament and giving Verdasco just one game in the final. It’s not like Verdasco was playing badly; he was also attacking and hitting hard but Rafa could neutralize it with his own aggression. I mean you won’t be playing defensive or counterpunching tennis when you only allowed your opponent to win one game in the whole match. He was also aggressive throughout the whole tournament and losing only 14 games the whole tournament.

        Right now Rafa is playing really counterpunching tennis despite time and again he said he has to play aggressive tennis. In this match, he kept hitting CC to Kyle’s BH when Kyle was already there waiting. It seemed that Rafa was running out of ideas how to counter Kyle’s aggressive game. Why not played some one two punch tennis? Or stepped inside the court to hit his FHDTL to Kyle’s FH corner when Kyle was waiting at his BH corner? Why kept hitting CCto Kyle’s BH and got burnt when Kyle could hit big winners CC or even DTL almost always?

        If Rafa continues to play counterpunching tennis vs Zverev tomorrow, I see him going home early. I’ll rather see Rafa fight tooth and nail from the get go and throughout a match, then see him wins the first set easily, and then loses intensity, relaxes and then loses the next set. At least fighting tooth and nail, most probably his opponent would have played his max level and may not be able to raise his level any further but as we know Rafa can always raise his when his back is against the wall.

        • Lucky…U said it well of what i have in my mind!..I mean,Rafa certainly would lose at some stage if he keep playing like this..just running around and get the ball back won’t give him the win anymore..he will get tired when he reach semis or final..and then lost to his opponents there because of the same reason like he lost in all his previous final..UNLESS he changed his game now and be aggressive…It’s CLAY for heaven’s sake!YOUR DORMAIN!!

        • @lucky 5:07pm,

          Rafa did not have the wrong tactics. BH is Edmund’s weakness and all Rafa needed to do is exploit it and force him to make errors from that side! It’s well known fact that Edmund’s FH is strong and as we have seen copes well against Rafa’s BH..,Rafa rarely hits BH winners so if he was going to win the point with the winner he was obviously more comfortable to put a pressure on Edmund BH with his FH. The problem arises when Rafa hits short allowing Edmund to run around his BH and hit FH instead. Also in the second set when Rafa allowed to be broken back Edmund gained confidence and played way better, even his backhand was clicking, and it was mainly because Rafa donated numerous short balls…however, luckily Edmund could not sustain this level for long, while Rafa started hitting deep again and the order was soon restored…

          It’s not the wrong tactics, it’s the execution that fails…I do think Rafa needs to mix it up when the opponent starts playing with confidence and belief by going to the net more often and hits more agressively…but Rafa prefers to stick to the original tactics which worked perfectly in the first set waiting for Edmund’s level to drop a bit to take advantage of it.. It forces him to work harder and spend more energy but it paid off in the end…that’s how Rafa has always been…it is just that now that he has lost some of his power and speed execution becomes more difficult and small lapses and errors here and there easily cost him matches…

      • I hope they are practicing mental strength.

        RT (translated):
        In 400 matches on clay, Nadal lost only 34. His winning percentage (91.5 %) is the best in history on Earth.)

      • A sign of Rafa not being confident; that he has to go practicing immediately after a match.

        Seriously, his serve is awful! How many times he misses his first serve and having to serve a second, his opponent returns it with interest! And that’s why he kept losing his serve in this match even after breaking his opponent’s serves.

        He may be hitting his FH well in practice, but that doesn’t help if he can’t hit it well in actual matches, when he gets wrong footed, or being pushed out wide or being pushed back and was forced to hit his FH when out of position. Imo, the main thing is: don’t let his opponent dictate points; he should use his own strength – be it his foot speed or footwork; his raw power, or his court positioning – to dictate and push his opponents out of positions instead. He was doing that in the past, it seems he has lost some of those abilities now as he grows older, and also is playing with low confidence.

        • Totally agree. Rafa seems to refuse changing his game plan even when he is on the losing end…his court positioning is not as it used to be. His footwork and his power make an issue when facing hard hitting opponents, since Rafa does not seem quite capable of counter attacks as he did in the past…on top of it, Rafa’s serve betrayed him big in this match…facing Edmund for the first time was one additional disadvantage…

          However, all the top players struggled in their first clay court match so let’s hope Rafa only needed some adjustment time and will be ready for Sasha…

          Vamos Champ!

  9. I really hope Rafa and Novak make the semis, cuz I’m dyin’ to see a Rafa/Djok clay match again! I feel like that match would be so key to each of them, confidence-wise, for the rest of the season going forward, especially clay season. Novak is desperate to restart his game after close to a year of slumping. Rafa is surely desperate to finally turn around his losing streak to Novak, and gain the upper hand going into Roland Garros. Plus, imo, this is the best chance that Rafa has had in a while to end the losing streak, given that he has played better than Novak this season, and that Monte Carlo is his playground. Considering how close Rafa was to taking sets in their last few matches, I think Rafa’s recent Novak struggles are largely mental. Since Novak appears to be having mental issues himself these days, what a great opportunity for Rafa to reassert himself over Novak! For these reasons, mixed with the fact that Novak is desperate to reassert himself, I find the possibility of them meeting in the semis “mouth-watering”, as the commentators like to say. 🙂

      • I always found potential Fedal outdoor matches “mouth watering” too from 2008-2014 when Rafa won 15 of 17 matches,

        I don’t find any Rafa matches “mouth watering” these days. Been a few years now. With few exception, I find them nerve wracking and mostly unrewarding.

        • Can’t argue with with you there, Hawks… I guess I’m talking about the stakes of that potential match.

  10. As anticipated Murray was pretty rusty but nothing a can or two of WD40 wont put right 😉

    As for Rafa not dropping a set on the way to the final I said yesterday IMO that was a tad over optimistic. Still I was surprised Edmund managed to take Rafa to three sets but top players often have difficulty against someone they’ve never played before.

  11. None of the top players impressed me so far. It may be due to the change of surface from HC to clay so everyone is adjusting.

    A Zverev was winning in straight sets but his opponents weren’t playing impressive tennis and so he beat them easily. Thiem’s win over Haase wasn’t easy even though he won in straight sets.

    Djoko, Stan, Rafa, all went three sets. Berdych even lost a set to old man Haas. Dimi is struggling now. Murray was poor even though he won in 7-5, 7-5. Agut lost; Goffin was struggling initially against Almagro and was 5-1 down in first set before Almagro went away and so Goffin won in straight sets.

    Not very good tournament for the top guys this MC.

    • Dimitrov is pretty much done. What a letdown following the Aussie open run and titles in Sofia and Brisbane.

  12. Oh dear, Dimi crushes out! Not looking good for Dimi thus far, keeps losing early at the Masters. I have him reaching and staying in top ten this season, not looking likely if he keeps losing in first or second rounds at the masters.

    • It’s true that no one is looking particularly great right now. Rafa has set the bar so high at this event that it’s shocking to see him drop a set to Edmund.

      I couldn’t believe it when I saw Dimi lose to Struff! He started out so well at the AO, but has seemed to cool off.

      You don’t have to play your best in your first match. The key is to win, which Rafa did. So did Murray, Novak and Stan. Now we have to see if they can raise their level of play.

      • Most probably they will as they usually do. But I’m not sure if any of them will win this tournament. I think Thiem has a real chance.

  13. I know this sounds odd but I was actually happy Rafa got tested today. I think the additional hour on court gave him some needed practice on clay. He will be in fine form by the time RG comes along!

    • I actually found myself thinking the same thing after the match. Initially, my thought was that Rafa had to expend energy on a match that should have been a routine win. But the more I thought about it, the more I started to think that maybe it was better for Rafa to be tested and have more time on the court to get his feet under him. I go back and forth between not wanting Rafa to exert himself too much, or getting tested and pushed in his first match and maybe getting a chance to gecthe feel if his shots and work out the kinks a little.

      Given that Rafa has Zverev up next, maybe going up against Edmund’s big forehand was good practice.

      We will have to see how it goes when Rafa faces Zverev. But at this point I am hoping that the extra time on court in this match was well spent.

  14. Just finished watching the tape. As I expected, Nadal’s problems are not easily solved by moving onto clay. His reduced lateral movement tells on both wings, though more on the FH. To be sure, Edmund has got some game, and after that awful first set (doesn’t get much worse than 15 UE in 6 games), he really upped it. When he played well he played very well. His inside out FH is terrific, though he needs to learn to hit it down the line. He had his chance in the last set, up 2-1 with the break point, but Rafa played the big points better in that last set, as you’d expect from a champ.

    Rafa is obviously lacking confidence, but anyone who thinks that’s all he lacks isn’t looking hard enough. He still has the FH and even BH weapon, but (like many players as they age) he has to start trying to hit the winner earlier in the point. The days of Nadal simply out-grinding the opponent are either over or they are going to be very few and far between. Counter-punching isn’t going to cut it, even on clay. Objectively, I didn’t see anything to change my mind about his MC prospects. He may eke out a 3 set win against Zverev, but he could as easily lose it. IMO, Nadal’s 2017 highlight was the AO match against Dimitrov (the match of the tournament). His overall level since then has been consistently lower.

    • Anyone who thinks that Nadal “simply out-grinded” his opponents at his peak are those that intentionally belittle his game or know little about tennis.

      In this case, it just happens to be both.

      And you should sell that VCR.

      Just more of the same from a dime-a-dozen fedfawn suffering from Fedal PTSD.


    • Joe…I agree with u..yeah,looking Rafa at AO makes me dare to hope that he has a chance to win FO but looking at him NOW,i seriously doubt it..Unless like i said up agrressive..but,’s hard to do that when you’re lack of confidence…let’s see how he’s gonna fare for the rest of the tournament and for the rest of the clay tourney before FO…

      • Mira, why do you doubt Rafa? Don’t you know at the FO, Rafa will be a different animal?? Look, he can lose to Djoko at MC or Rome in the past, but once it comes to the FO, Rafa plays differently, a lot more aggressive, if not how could he win the FO for five consecutive times, beating Sod, Fed, and then beating Djoko in three consecutive years?

        MC is not the FO, Rafa uses it as a warm up. Of course winning at MC is important for his confidence too, but not winning it he still has chances at others like Madrid, Barcelona and Rome emote the FO. He lost at MC in 2013 and 2014 but still won at the FO, don’t forget that.

        • Lucky..yeah,i know Rafa certainly capable of turn things around in a blink of an u,i also followed Rafa for a long time now..BUT,so far..from what i’ve seen[after AO]..he still shackled by a few things such as lack of confidence and anxiety/nervous..he seems unable to past those walls when it mattered the most..until he showed that he can beat those demons,i’m not going to hope much…

          Lucky..yeah,he can win 5 consecutive times and everything else but THAT was BEFORE he injured his back in 2014 and everything falling down after that..what we see now is the new Rafa..a Rafa that is trying to build his game back from the scratch..of course it’s going to be hard..Rafa himself already said,that it’s impossible to see The Rafa of 2008,10 and 13 anymore…BUT,i also said up there that i’m going to see how he’s gonna fare for the rest of the tournament…HE’S RAFAEL NADAL after all..playing on clay for him just like throwing a fish into the water..that’s how natural he is..but he’s also needs to realize that..he seems forget quite a lot about that lately..that’s why he have those lack of confidence that led to nervousness in key moments…

        • I hear you, Luckstar. If Rafa loses pre-RG clay tournaments, it definitely doesn’t mean he won’t win RG. But I think the question is whether that still applies to Rafa now as MUCH as it did in 2013, or even 2014. As great as Rafa still is, he isn’t quite the same player he was a few years ago. Personally, I still think he is the most likely to win RG this year. But it’s certainly more acceptable to at least be concerned if he doesn’t win a lead-up tourney than it was pre-2015…

    • Come on Joe, Rafa won the first set 6-0! He was doing everything right. It’s just that Kyle had nothing to lose after that and so he went for broke all the way in set two and three.

      Rafa’s intensity dropped a bit in set two, he broke Kyle’s serve early in set two and should sail home easily after that, but Rafa as usual always had a letdown in set two nowadays. When Kyle was hitting like there’s no tomorrow, not many could counter that. Plus, Rafa was serving poorly in set two, losing his serves twice and one of which while serving to stay in set two.

      He was still breaking serve and got broken in set three, but he did raise his level of play nearing the end of the match. He was forcing Kyle to make errors by hitting one more ball all the time, it’s typical of his counter punching mentality.

      Rafa at least could think clearly at crucial moments; not being tense or messed up; that’s something positive. One clay, Rafa always plays point construction tennis as it’s the best surface to play counter punching tennis. He will not go for first strike tennis that’s for sure, but he could play something like the first set and I hope he could sustain his intensity a bit longer to win in straight sets going forward.

    • Joe seems to expect Rafa to turn into an attacking player as Rafa grows older! It’s not going to happen!

      Rafa will use his guile to win his matches, like he did in this match with Kyle. Why do you think it’s so difficult to beat Rafa esp on clay? Rafa makes things difficult for his opponents (and sometimes for himself). He won’t play hard hitting tennis, and he not play first strike tennis, so he’s not to your taste.

      But, Rafa will make things difficult for his opponents and that’s for sure unless Rafa himself is playing poorly. Rafa wasn’t playing poorly in this match, he just lost his concentration in set two and so letting Kyle back into the match. He was serving relatively poorly though, esp his second serves. Once he got his first serves in, he usually won the point.

      This match may serve as a wake up call for Rafa, if he loses concentration or can’t sustain his intensity, he will get into trouble and has to spend more time on the court, not something desirable as he still has a long clay season ahead.

      • Lucky, you’re right that I prefer attacking tennis. But I honestly also believe it’s Nadal’s best chance as he grows older. Sure, he will use guile, and today he gutted it out. He was better in the big points. But when Edmunds was playing well, I thought Rafa struggled to stay with him. I haven’t checked the stats, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Kyle won a decent % of longer points (at least, that’s how it seemed to me). If that becomes a trend, for Nadal or any older player with his type of game, I think they need to consider some changes that will shorten points.

        • Cart before the horse Joe Smith.

          Nadal’s level fell significantly and ANY player in the Top 150 (gotta get Donskoy in there) will play well, given that opportunity.

          And I can back it up. When Nadal was broken at love in the third, he hit short ball returns at or inside the service line that Edmunds crushed for winners.

          That’s all it was.

          Nadal today plays much differently with a lead compared to when he’s behind. And it’s not about adjusting his game. He simply lacks confidence.

          Rafa’s a player who, when confident, plays the point, not the scoreboard.

          But that break in the third spoke to everything that is wrong with Rafa.

          • I agree that Nadal’s overall level fell, but I thought it was more Edmunds’ level rising in the 2nd set onwards.

            Some stats back it up. For instance, Rafa hit only 40% 1st serves in the 1st set (it went way up to 80% in the 2nd). How often does a player get bageled when the opponent only hits in 40% of 1st serves? 15 UE tell the story.

            Agree that Nadal played very timidly in the 3rd set game he was broken, and that was probably nerves. Edmunds still had to hit the winners but Rafa made it pretty easy for him.

            • I’m not taling about the first set. Any player who gets bageled is not playing his best, no question.

              The whole second half of the second set and first half on the third was the same as that 3rd set break.

              No different when Rafa was broken twice in a row in the second set.

              Rafa hit short when he wasn’t under pressure in the points in those two games as well.

              Any professional player in the top 100 or 150 would hit those winners in the same situation. (including Federer).

              And that’s been his problem since mid-2014. The dramatic change was sudden after 2014 FO. And he’s only gotten better over the last year, not worse, despite getting older.

              So age is not the main factor.

        • Long rallies Rafa would win but these days Rafa himself won’t get into long rallies often. Kyle didn’t allow him to get into long rallies anyway when Kyle was crushing his FH all the time.

          I think the next time Rafa plays Kyle, he won’t allow Kyle to do that for long, as now Rafa knows what to expect.

          Rafa can play more offensively, it’s just that he lacks the confidence to do so now! I saw him raising his level towards end of third set and was hitting with more power and depth, so it’s a matter of confidence and necessity, not that he couldn’t do it.

          • Rafa will not be your fav player to watch, as he’s one who dislike hard hitting or short point tennis. He likes tactical play, problem solving tennis, not outright going for attack kind of tennis, even though he has all the tools to do it.

  15. More ad hominems, I see.

    Of course I don’t believe that Nadal *simply* out-grinded his opponents. I do think that his unparalleled ability to make his opponent play another ball has been a big part of his success. Who would deny that?

    It is not my intention to belittle anyone. I specifically said Nadal still has weapons; I suggested (as it seems to me many others do above) that he needs to consider trying to use them earlier in the point, as opposed to outlasting his opponent, which isn’t working for him any more.

    Why do you take things so personally?

    • So much for Joe Smith’s word.

      So obvious Joe Smith. Have a look in the mirror sometime.


  16. If Rafa wants to win today, he should do something with that serve. Zverev will not get easily broken.

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