In a constant redefinition, because that is what times dictate and an increasingly ultra-professional system in which every detail counts, and much, Rafael Nadal He took advantage of his last stay in the reserve to pamper his body and weigh a strategic change in his game. Although the improvement of their service has been more than significant in recent years, the number two and his team perceived that the statistics had suffered slightly during the last year and that the most direct rivals did not loosen a hair. Both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic continued to get more and more match to the serve, while the initial ball of the Balearic was distancing.
Then, Carlos Moyà and Francis Roig took a step forward. In September, the technicians of the Balearic Islands requested a report from the ATP to analyze the section in depth and compare figures, and then they detected a deficit that had to be alleviated in one way or another. Said report said that the service of Nadal (32 years) was being too far behind, especially in terms of speed. While Federer's ball lost only 12% of speed when bouncing in the opponent's box and Djokovic's 15%, the Mallorcan suffered an excessive deceleration of 27%, which made it more predictable and therefore so much easier to subtract.
"All this came after the US Open," Moyà explains in a statement posted on the ATP website. "Rafa was for the work, it came from him and we decided to try it. There are things that we have seen for a long time, but because of the knee and the foot we had not been able to get to work. In winter he has been more or less well, he tried, he found continuity and he felt comfortable ", says the coach, who in turn qualifies:" They are details, it is not something radical. At first he had trouble changing the chip. We have to give this type of change time and we have had it. It feels as if it has been like that for the rest of my life, "adds exnúmero one.
But what exactly does the change consist of? To begin with, the Nadal jump when serving is less, something that it also has an effect in favor of his right knee, for which any exemption is small; now, the knee flexion is quite minor and instead of sitting on raising the ball maintains a more upright posture; also, it relaxes the hand more and the tension is smaller, allowing the hitting to be more natural; "At the time of executing swing", Says Roig on the ATP website," he takes his hand more time on the bottom instead of lifting it laterally "; and finally, "he enters well with his right leg inside the court after falling", describes the Barcelona coach.
All these nuances make the mechanics are new and the ball has less effect, being more direct, something that has already been seen during training in Brisbane and Melbourne, and also in the only match he has played this season so far, in Abu Dhabi. "You have to try to go one step further with the serve. I'm happy with my new gesture, but I'll have to check if it works under pressure, during matches, "said Nadal in the waiting room. its premiere, against James Duckworth (238 of the world) in the central one, under the harsh sun of the antipodes (second turn, towards 3.00 Spanish time, Eurosport). "There are always things that can be improved and I've always tried to improve. That keeps me motivated, "he prolonged.
The serve is not new, it has never been Nadal's fort. That is why it has always had an impact on it, either by correcting postures, by returning to the bottom line or by trying different handles. In this sense, his problems in the knees have also been decisive, because the boat is punishment. From the beginning, his life coach, Toni Nadal, warned that there was a significant disadvantage because rivals like Djokovic were able to manufacture a ace at 175 km / h and his disciple does not. Introducing retouching and subtracting spin (effect), it improved until acquiring an important level in 2010, its most productive course with the service. Then, with 24 years, he got his personal record: 75% of points with first, like in 2012. By that way he won his first US Open.
Subsequently, its levels fell again, but in 2017 regained brightness. He returned to the top of the circuit thanks, to a large extent, to the productivity with the serve. He closed that season having done with 74% of the points played with his first service and with a strategic variable: in the deuce, instead of serving the T - the confluence of the lines of the two paintings - it made it much more open. In addition, Nadal connected 286 aces, the second best data after 310 of 2010.
Now, Nadal is fully aware that his possibilities on the fast surface (Australia, New York and most of the circuit) go through to reinforce the first shot and that his longevity depends to a great extent on the care of the joints. "The serve has been improving during all these years and at the point where I am in my career, it is clear that we have to add something extra, or at least try it," Manacor told the Eurosport channel yesterday. Paradoxically, despite not being a punch the records put Nadal in good place. Specifically, the statistics of the ATP places him as the fifteenth best server of the modern era, with an average of 85.2% of games won, immediately after Djokovic (85.6%).
Good friend of Tiger Woods, the Mallorcan shares with the golfer the misfortune of the injuries. Nadal has dealt with his own body throughout his career and especially with the knees, which last season and forced him to stop since September 7, when he left in the semifinals of the US Open.
Affected recently of the right articulation, the Balearic one already passed by a very hard moment in 2012, when having to resign to the Games of London by a hoffitis in the left. They are, without doubt, his great enemy, so that he and his trusted doctor, the Cantabrian Angel Ruiz Cotorro, monitor them with a magnifying glass.
With the serve, both knees suffer from the impact on the fall to the ground and with its latest modification, Nadal (32 years and professional since 2001) also aims to increase care, hence it is suspended less. The dry maneuver, starting from scratch, is aggressive, as is the tee shot in golf.
Well knows Woods, 43 years and one of the most recognized golfers in history. The American, who returns to enjoy after dark times, has suffered much the exigency of this maneuver. The swing forces to contort the body in an exaggerated way and at the same time forces the knees.
In total, Tiger has had to go through the operating room four times to repair the back (2014, twice in 2015 and another in 2017) and four more to intervene the left knee. The first (1994) was to remove a benign tumor, but in the later ones (2002 and two in 2008) fluid was removed from the anterior crusader, an arthroscopy was done on the cartilage and the crusader was operated, causing nine months of sick leave.