Rafa Roundup: Will we ever see Rafael Nadal back to his imperious best? We believe in our champ!

Spain's Rafael Nadal reacts during his first round match against Spain's Fernando Verdasco at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 19, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter       TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Photo: REUTERS/Thomas Peter 


“It’s one of the biggest disappointments we’ve had,” Toni Nadal, his coach and uncle, said in an interview with Spanish radio. “All losses hurt, or nearly all, but to go out in the first round of a tournament that is so important like the Australian Open and to have come in here playing well for three or four months, that is what is very disappointing.”

“I understand that in sport results come first and if you have to make a change, you have to do it,” Toni Nadal told Spanish radio station Cadena Cope on Wednesday.

… And Toni admitted it is difficult for his nephew to change style after so much success throughout his career.

“The strategy he has played with his whole life matters less now. It isn’t easy to change style after 15 years.”

He may be on the right track, but Nadal needs time and to get a number of matches under his belt to regain the confidence he lost during his complicated 2015 season. He is determined and nothing if not a battler, and his focus will now turn to clay (most likely in Rio de Janeiro in mid-February) as he looks to reassert himself on his favourite surface. And who knows, maybe that will bring with it an historic tenth French Open title.

… Rafa had a sixth sense for survival, for finding the finish line before his opponent. Now that dynamic has been reversed: Fognini and Verdasco sprinted past him down the stretch, with hardly a second glance.

Whether it’s taking more risk himself, or moving up in the court, or varying his locations, or revamping his serve—or, perhaps, taking a page from Verdasco’s book and re-watching a few of those epic wins from the past—Nadal will need to find a way to deal with the free-swingers who have come home to roost. For now, as Rafa himself says, he’s standing in the middle of the road, watching the winners fly by.

Perhaps the true indication of whether Nadal is in a state of decline will come during the clay season – his favoured surface.

The left-hander, nicknamed the ‘King of Clay’, has won nine of his Grand Slam titles on the surface at the French Open, including five in a row between 2010 and 2014.

You look at Nadal now, and you wonder if maybe the wrong guy (Stan Wawrinka) got that tattoo quoting playwright Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

“He’s been there, he’s won so many and, yeah, he lost first round, but I really believe it’s not so easy to beat Rafa in the best of five … and it might be different when he is able to get two or three matches under his belt,” Corretja told the BBC.

“I think he’s been a little bit unlucky with the draws. Usually we shouldn’t say that with Rafa, but I think with the momentum he needs, he’s been suffering tough losses because of that.”

A good, solid stretch on clay should boost his confidence and set him up for the rest of the season, which also includes the Rio Olympics (on hard courts).




  1. DEAR KIND RAFA’S FANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) Your messages reads kindly and it is great that Rafa has many caring fans! I would suggest it is not about a new coach. His coach is excellent & effective, plus is a solid team behind him! When Rafa approaches the court w aggressive mind set, his RETURNS & his SERVE are creative, varied & yield winners! Key here is the fact that Rafa indeed is well aware of WHAT HE IS DOING EFFECTIVELY…..WHAT HE MUST BE DOING MORE OF…… HOW TO POSITION HIMSELF IN ORDER TO ESTABLISH & KEEP COMMAND IN THE COURT . FURTHERMORE, RAFA CLEARLY HAS A FINE SENSE OF WHAT ASPECTS OF HIS GAME TO PRACTICE MORE OF…… Handling his Tennis affairs throughout his career & especially since he came back from injuries has been yielding steady growth & development in his serve & powerful RETURNS, his speed & ENDURANCE & fitness….. THERE are many aspects to the game , varied conditions & other crucial important moments behind the scene that us fans can only imagine. The load is huge & he is doing very well with his mighty all best efforts to keep up being current & competitive. I suggest a good helpful strategy for us fans is to keep our fan support in perspective, always encouraging & supporting him as he moves along. Such support may be the best any fan can offer. Thank you!
    VAMOS DEAR RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) 🙂 : )

    • Fan Love, it seems you’re now beginning to talk a bit of sense. Ofcourse, that was after all the bashings and admonitions you received from me and J Beer. We hope you will from now on uphold only the truth, and nothing but the truth.

      Like I’ve repeatedly said, only the truth can bring our champion back to life.

  2. Uncle tony u dont tneed to mess up with nadal game

    He dont to be out and out aggressive
    Rafa has great defensive game and he need to get back to this
    Only when he feels best about his defence he can be little agressive when it needed in the game

    Core problem is, rafa finding dificult for hitting the ball 1 to 2 feet beyond service box area consitently
    Rafa has higher net clearance than most of player in atp and has high bounce as well which so good thing to have but this become a lollipop ball when it land short inside service box area ….opponent feels tempting of that ball and hence no matter how great the spin is opponent able to hit winner
    U need to look into tension of ur strings for any adjustment to achieve that baĺl area target and get some pace ( choose some light weight racquet to feel ur hand)

    It is difficult to understand why rafa and team not able to sort out this problem from long time
    Rafa needs to hit this area even when playing 1or 2 feet away from baseline

    Other thing rafa needs to develop a ” go to shots” i.e. he have to develop a shot that will be clear winner like serve wide and then hit a cross court forehand
    It will be helpfull in getting out rafa from 0-30 difficult position on his service game

    Also rafa need to be a little quick on ball

    And last thing he need to include a technical analyst to his team so it will be helpfull in finding highs and lows of ur game as well as finding inside out of opponent game so it will be helpfull in making strategy for players

    I am 200% sure if rafa can do this then no one will able to stop rafa from winning grandslam on any surface

    • you are right…..Rafa has an excellent Defensive game and I would add that his AGGRESSIVE OFFENSIVE game is equally impressive. You have some very good observations ! : ) As fan support goes, we can be mighty helpful and encouraging!!!!! : ) We must have a wider allowance & trust for all the enormous preparations behind the scene . We must refrain from too many obvious notes about what has gone wrong & replace that with our kind appreciation for the great beautiful Tennis that he does display. I am 300% sure you are a kind fan & your comments make sense. Rafa is a classy Tennis genius, truly mighty fighter & a brilliant player & I love that you put 200% on your confidence of his ability & journey moving forward.

    • Toni should cuz Rafa is not a beast anymore. He is already 30 with many problems with his knee. Rafa couldn’t run like he used to so he needs to work more on the flat shots and serve.
      But it’s better if he hires an assistant coach. Serena Williams spent most of the time with her father-coach but finally changed when needed. She found her rhythm back after a huge blow in the first round of French Open 2012. That’s a good example for Rafa.

  3. Why does uncle Toni think he needs to go ? Why can’t he stay and get a secondary top coach on board ? 2 minds are greater than 1. I believe that Rafa needs a coach that is able to see Rafa’s weaknesses. Preferably someone that can improve his serve & return. The forehand will follow. Rafa is as talented as any other player so why can’t he serve as well ? Because he has no one that can teach him that.

    I really wish Rafa had added a coach a long time ago to prepare him for today. His physical and defensive abilities used to cover up his flaws but not anymore.

Leave a Reply