- First-Round Defeat Raises More Questions for Rafael Nadal | The New York Times
“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.”
- Uncle Toni open to Rafael Nadal coaching change | Yahoos Sports
“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.”
- Nil desperandum for Nadal | Roland Garros
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.
- Stuck in the Middle With Rafa | tennis.com
… 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.”
- World view: Open defeat shows Rafael Nadal has lost his aura and is in decline as grand slam force | Fox Sports
“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).
- Australian Open 2016: Rafael Nadal loses to Fernando Verdasco
- Verdasco defeats Nadal | Australian Open