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There are two elements of Rafa's game that as a fan of his have always frustrated/bewildered me. One is his serve. We know from the 2010 US Open that he is capable of serving much faster than he does, faster even than Djokovic now. For some reason, in 2011 he just went back to his old serve. Moya persuaded him to be somewhat more aggressive and that's been key to his serve +1 success in his 30s, but I feel he could do more. When I saw him hit a T serve 128mph in first set I was optimistic about his chances in the match. He ended up serving only 4kph less than Djokovic on first serve which is better than usual. I'm loathe to critique Rafa's strategy, but I feel it would be well worth a lower first serve pct. in to get more free points and more easy serve +1s from a more aggressive first serve. He is, after all, quite good at defending his second serve.

The other is the forehand down the line. When he hit that shot regularly in the summer of 2013 he was unbeatable even on hard. It's the only time in his career I can remember him doing that. In the first 4 matches of this tournament it seemed he barely hit it. He did it more in this match, but the 20% winning pct. on 9+ points seems to me largely because Nadal has to defend the whole baseline while Djokovic is mostly defending the backhand corner alone. On clay he can get away with this, but I feel to have a chance against the top players on hard and grass, he needs to get comfortable hitting that shot and that means using it against weaker players. This one is less about strategy, I think, and more about confidence; Nadal has the most unusual combination of incredible general mental toughness mixed with narrow regions of mental fragility.

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