I just watched the fantastic highlights of Gigor Dimitrov v Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open 2014.
I haven’t seen Grigor much before. I was waiting for a proper test like this. What I saw in these highlights is really impressive. Nadal we know about but how close the match was it most interesting. That Baby Fed took the first set is very impressive. What I saw is a young player with all the features required to push the very top. I’m hoping it reflects a winning mind that will adapt to the demands of his career but as a snapshot it was beautiful.
It seems like this could be the match of the tournament like Stan v Novak was last year. Too early to tell but the consistent quality seemed there.
Was watching their movement mainly. I’m finding movement makes the difference in my game v others and between the tours. The women do most things the men do but do move as well and it robs them of so much.
I find that moving to the ball well is everything because all my best shots come when I am in position and my best attacks come from me being in good position and my opponent being out of position.
Adding to that I am learning to use positioning to control my opponent. Lobs and smashes are a good example. Against Nadal I think Grigor could have used Nadals movement against him. Dimi has the movement and shots to force Rafa to lob and Grigor has the feet and movement to cover this and smash but where he puts it is key.
You don’t beat an opponent of Nadals calibre and fitness everytime you smash so going safe pushing for a weak response is key. You won’t miss and you can hit hard making him do all the work. That is key. I would try to run Rafa around. Over the match this would wear him down. Run him side to side then bring him forward. Never give him a decent opportunity and keep forcing him to lob you and thus be obvious.
Grivor had some opportunities to do this kind of thing but went for the winner. It will work against most others but not the top 4 so I don’t blame him trying it now but in time I’m expecting more thought. I feel Rafas strength of movement can easily be his weakness if you know how to exploit it. He will opt to run any chance he gets. Smashes to alternate sides are safe, pressuring yet really tiring for your opponent.
At least that is what I am finding and what I see watching the tour. It’s not something people seem to notice though.