PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal’s Wednesday practice – 2018 Australian Open

As a Kia ambassador, Rafael Nadal had some sponsors duties during the day but it didn’t stop him to do the necessary work on the blue court in Melbourne.

Rafa’s practicing partner on Wednesday was Alexander Zverev. Here are a few photos.

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22 thoughts on “PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal’s Wednesday practice – 2018 Australian Open

  1. va4favre

    I posted my TB Ten comments on the post after this one. I agree with all of the comments below. I do think Rafa ran out of gas, so re treated to his usual position. As stated here, he practiced with Sascha plus having the Kia event. Novak and Thiem had played the Kooyong Classic earlier that day too. As I said in my other post, Berdych played very well in all three matches.

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  2. Rainier

    Ahhh. Such a shame. Rafa lost 5-10. Berdych was on fire and Rafa played a bit too passive and consequently was pushed by an inspiring and freely playing player “as usual”. He wasn’t allowed o play much and when he made his own chances, he missed them.

    Good sign that his movement was good. But his Achilles heel still remains his return position, no doubt about that. If he still insists on playing conservative like this, I seriously doubt his chances at the AO, especially with seemingly okay but most likely not 100% knees.

    Still, it was fun. Looking forward to the next TB10. Better luck tomorrow, Rafa. And pls pls play more freely and active to save both your knees and nerves.

    🤞🏻🍀

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  3. Rainier

    Is it me or Rafa must be one of the best call challenger on the tour? He just no successfully challenged an one millimetre in ball to level the score 3-3.

    But Berdych playing well and relaxed and taking it to Rafa.

    It’s 7-3 now. 😦 Rafa way too far behind the court and just mishitting a lot. 😦

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    1. I wish Moya could persuade Rafa to refrain from standing so far behind the baseline. I know he, and Uncle Toni, have tried but Rafa can be very difficult to convince. I read somewhere that being so far back gives him more time for a big swing on return but it also leaves the court wide open for the opponent for a placement. It also makes Rafa run further which puts further strain on his knees.
      I suppose Berdych will win the tie breaker now and good luck to him. With Rafa so far back on the court of course he will be inclined to misshit.
      Your thoughts on this Rainier.? You are far better at analysing than I.

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      1. Rainier

        Hi Beverley. I have a lot of thoughts about Rafa and tennis but I don’t think I’m better than anyone at “analysing”. I just call them my thoughts and observations. 🙂

        Anyway, yes, Rafa’s “legendary” return position. Before it’s mostly on clay. Now it’s everywhere, every match.

        2017 was a strange year in the sense that Rafa retreated further and further on return as the year progressed.

        I suspected it all stemmed from the clay season. Watch the AO 17 again and compare his return position back then to where it is now (or any at any HC tourney in the 2nd part of last year).

        He was so dominated and successful on the red dirt that he carried much of his clay game to the grass, and the HC for the rest of the year, “symbolised” by his “controversial”, but “legendary” return position.

        It’s a mockery of the modern baseline game where first strike tennis and big serving/hitting are dominating.

        What you read is spot on. The most effective way to win a point against Rafa is to pull him off the court, creating all the angles and not giving him a chance to reset the rally. Play short, neat and quick. Don’t give him chances to get into his rhythm and play his game.

        By returning way behind the baseline – even further than the sign of the tournament at the back of the court, he only makes things easier for his opponents, and much tougher for himself, no matter what he convinces himself.

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      2. Rainier

        Not a revelation, but Toni said it would be easier to take the ball earlier and that “in the future” he would have to “evolve”. He’s been persuading him for years but Rafa, by all accounts, “a creature of habits” and “doesn’t like changes” (Moya), said Stefi Graff played like that and succeed and he was able to do so as well.

        It’s true. So far Rafa has been the only one in the men’s game who is able to do it – returning from the front row but still has successes, immense successes, on all surfaces. All credits to him.

        Still, it’s tough. The men’s game is very much different from the women’s game, especially the women’s game in Graff’s time.

        Also, Rafa is not so young anymore. His speed, defence, FH, all have declined considerably. It’s his experience, anticipation, game sense, tactics, adjustments and improvements in other parts of his game… that make it looks like he’s still playing his best and covering the court like nobody else at times.

        And make no mistake, he’s still in pain most of the time. It just doesn’t make a big deal out of it and like Moya said, his pain threshold tolerance is unusually high even for an top pro athlete.

        But I, like many others actually, think he tends to overestimate his body, and underestimate his game/talent.

        I would much prefer he did the opposite.

        He’s capable of even more than he has been.

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      3. Rainier

        He definitely can take the ball earlier and be good at it. He already practised on shortening his backswing on return on the BH side and there have been great results. He doesn’t need to change his groundstrokes drastically Just some small tweaks here and there but at the top of the game where the margins are so small, any change/improvement can make a difference.

        Rafa is a natural. He can do it. It’s just he also a creature of habits and may be a bit too “humble” and like Fed said, he doesn’t know how good he is.

        He definitely can adjust his tactics and play more truly to the “first strike tennis” game – I mean a balance between his “natural” game and the power, first strike game of 2010s tennis.

        The longer he still holds on to his “logic” like he said above, the lesser chance his longevity, I mean at the top, will be. It’s no rocket science.

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      4. Rainier

        So there you have it. The reasons I think why Rafa now retreats even further on return and why it’s so tough to persuade him:

        Fantastic, unexpected success on clay last year (to him; it might have been different with his fans though 😉
        Nerves
        Habits
        Declined mental strength (not the exact words but he basically admitted so)
        Body overestimation (linked with habit as well)
        Game/adaptation underestimation

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      5. Rainier

        Now some of you might bring the fact that he won the USO last year with that return position and criticise that we can’t know better than Rafa.

        But Toni and Moya are the ones who wants him to return closer to the baseline the most. 🙂

        Yes, it’s true Rafa’s level was very high and he played some of his best tennis there, as well as demonstrating how the ultimate big match player he is.

        But it’s not what won him the trophy. It’s only a part of his game. He didn’t have to play a Muller or a player who could expose the vulnerability in his game, at the very most in 5 sets.

        There’s a reason why he’s always been more vulnerable to big servers/hitters than the other members of the Big4, and is less successful indoor, where serve and return are critical, than them.

        Okay so I think that’s pretty much it. I hope you won’t regret asking me. 🙂

        Cheers.

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      1. Rainier

        Hi Margo.

        Yes, Rafa has extremely good eyes and his focus is as good as that of anyone else. He also successfully challenged a way out Pouille’s wide serve on the ad court that nobody else saw.

        He said Kyrgios had very good (extremely good) eyes as well and I interpret that as he has good eyes and actually much better game sense than many give him credit for.

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  4. Rainier

    So it’s Rafa vs Berdych in the final as predicted. Good luck, Rafa. And pls mix up your return position and play more active/agrressive on big points. 💪🏻💪🏻

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  5. Rainier

    Phew! Rafa just narrowly beat Hewiit 13-11. I was nervous watching an exo TB “match” 😩.

    Every player was lole rooting for Hewitt lol (except maybe Thiem :p) – sure Raonic/Berdych like their chances against Hewiitt in the final better, and Kyrgios loves him.

    I’m really wanting to win this thing right now, seeing he’s playing well. But tbh I’m worried that he’s been scrambling too much and playing as far behind the baseline as ever, even more so than yesterday.

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  6. Rainier

    Wow. High quality tennis there. This TB10 seems better than the Madrid version last year.

    I wanted to see Rafa play Novak and Kyrgios but it doesn’t mean to be. Berdych seems like a good match against Kyrgios (should have won the LC match). Great “MP” and if Rafa beats Hewiit, who beat Novak, I think Rafa may play against him in the final.

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  7. Rainier

    Hi everyone. Anyone watching the Tie break Tens?

    As expected, Rafa really pumping up today! He just creamed Pouille 10-1 😅, serving well and hitting ridiculously well from way “30 meters behind the baseline” (he joked afterwards and looked clearly happy).

    Way to go Rafa! Just don’t scramble too much and save your legs. 💪💪🍀🍀

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    1. Margo

      Hi Rainier… Both va4favre and I posted comments on other threads [before and after this one] as there was no new post from NRF on the TB Tens. There are plenty of videos available but I think va4lefave saw it live. Rafa looks like he’s getting into the groove except his position. I’m worried about that. Hopefully he will adjust.

      RAFA ROCKS

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      1. Rainier

        You didn’t see it live, Margo? It was broadcasted in many countries and if you’re awake then, you should have been able to watch it.

        Yes I didn’t check the other “threads”, just pumping into the newest one at the time like the “tradition” here. 😀

        If you don’t have replay, here’s the whole thing:
        youtu.be/tCKhYPwyCpg

        Cheers.

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    2. Margo

      Rainier, so you saw that running shot across the width of the court vs Hewitt- EVERYBODY was amazed. Nole threw his head back in shock. Hope that scared him. LOL

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      1. Rainier

        Yes I’ve watched that point many times already. Everybody’s reaction was.. understandable. It was vintage Rafa.

        (This is the clip in case some of you want to rewatch it: twitter.com/tiebreaktens/status/951029335179247616/video/1)

        Novak looked nice and calm (he’s usually much more animated in exos) and I think his reaction to that winner is nice. Not much to read into in an exo like this. Let’s wish him a good comeback form injury. 🙂

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