Porcupyn's Blog

July 6, 2008

Composition of a Wimbledon Champion

Filed under: Tennis — Porcupyn @ 7:19 pm

Rafael Nadal

  • Torso of a bull (made for awesome forehands and backhands)
  • Legs of a stallion/gazelle/buck (even McEnroe was overwhelmed by some of those unbelievable gets)
  • Eyes of a hawk (NBC should start a new stat – % of line-call challenges won)
  • Heart of a lion (this is perhaps the first time ever that someone had a better breaks to breakpoints percentage that Federer)

Now I understand why Borg retired after losing Wimbledon. There was something in him that could not take defeat. If Federer is anything like him, I think he will hang up his racquet if (when) he is left without a Grand Slam in hand – for the first time in ages (ok, six years I guess)!

Post Mortem:

I think that like Steffi Graf, Federer has trouble adjusting to changes in the field (did I write this sometime before?). Steffi had a tough time retiring the sliced backhand (she retired instead) and switching to the top-spin version instead. Federer, for his part, should have worked on being more comfortable at the net, and he should have practised more with a left-hander. I was surprised to hear – from commentator McEnroe himself – that Federer never rallied with him (Nadal had earlier this week during Wimbledon).

For readers outside the USA: McEnroe was overcome by the quality of tennis today, and he felt for Federer. First, he hugged Federer after the obligatory runner-up’s interview, then he hugged Nadal. I have a feeling that had even I come through the door next, he would have hugged me too! 😉

Post script:

Sanath Jayasuriya, meet Dara Torres!


  1. Steffi always had a top spin backhand. CHeck out the 80’s matches against serve and volleyers. She needed it less and less when they disappeared and she was 30 when she retired- which is ancient for a woman player!

    Comment by Jul — July 6, 2008 @ 7:40 pm | Reply

  2. What a match it was. Thoroughly enjoyable.

    Comment by bpsk — July 6, 2008 @ 11:08 pm | Reply

  3. Jul:

    Thanks for the comment – I raided youtube and will now watch some Steffi videos (it’s been a while since I last watched her, and my VHS tapes are rotting at home!).

    Here is a sample – well, it was the first video that met my query. Listen to how the commentator (was it Chris Evert?) comment about her not using the top spin backhand often enough.

    And note, also, that a topspin winner does not necessarily need to be hit against serve and volleyers (this video is a good counter-example). The point of a multi-faceted game is that it keeps the opponent guessing, i.e., you don’t need to be successful 100% of the time.

    Let me add one more link – this is what I remember too. My point was never that Steffi could not hit the top spin backhand, but that, as a perfectionist, she worked on it in practice a lot more than she unfurled during matches. I remember so often watching her slice-slice-slice-slice and then dump one final slice into the net, especially against folks like Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. Contrast with Federer (discount the power, generation difference, etc) who tries everything – except the net play that I wrote about in the post. Heck, even Nadal served-and-volleyed at Wimbledon in that final set!


    Yup, very enjoyable, though I missed the part after the rain delay until the beginning of the fifth set (if I had stayed away, maybe Federer would’ve won, eh?).

    Comment by porcupyn — July 7, 2008 @ 9:34 am | Reply

  4. Jul:

    If you are still visiting this blog, here is an excerpt from this article:

    “Graf’s one handed backhand was a very good solid stroke. It was an extremely consistent stroke with a heavy slice (usually) on baseline rallies that was hard to attack. Graf could also hit over the ball on the backhand well though she seldom used that shot in matches. She was not as effective with it as her forehand, but then again who could hit the ball as well as Graf on the forehand? The answer is perhaps no one.”

    Also, I hope you watched the US Open men’s finals to see the strategy that Federer used against Murray. Not only did he force Murray to move back and forth between the net and the baseline, but he also played some decent net ball, which he definitely needs to do more of against Nadal.

    Comment by porcupyn — September 18, 2008 @ 12:04 am | Reply

  5. […] local library hosted five-time Olympian Dara Torres, and obviously, I had to go listen. Too bad Baab is not here right now; he would have loved to be […]

    Pingback by “Age is Just a Number” | Porcupyn's Blog — September 20, 2016 @ 11:10 am | Reply

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