Asked if he was still planning on playing Brisbane, Nadal said: “I’m booked Brisbane. My goal is to be there and play there. Being honest, that’s my plan.”
In the match against Anderson, Nadal showcased an aggressive game on the fast courts of Abu Dhabi, which meant he hit a few uncharacteristic errors in the decider. He also sported a new service motion which Anderson spotted early on in the match.
“I saw that pretty much straight away in the warm-ups. The take back looks a little bit different. I’ve seen him playing a lot throughout the years and he’s sort of changed that motion a few times. Even his groundies look different now than they did 13 or 14 years ago when he first came out. He’s had a bit of time off, away, so sometimes you make a few adjustments. It’ll be interesting to see how that might help his serve throughout this coming season.”
- Nadal, De Minaur on QF collision course | Brisbane International
Rafael Nadal faces having to defeat former world No.5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Aussie teenage sensation Alex De Minaur in his first two matches of 2019 just to reach the semi-finals of the Brisbane International.
As the top seed, the 17-time Grand Slam champion enjoys a first-round bye before taking on the winner of Frenchman Tsonga and a qualifier, before a potential quarter-final showdown with last year’s surprise semi-finalist, No.7 seed De Minaur.
As Nadal said last summer, “There are two options to explain the fact that three players are dominating the circuit for so many years. Either we have been special, or the emerging players have not been special enough. I cannot say which is correct.”
For now, we know one thing is correct: This generation, the Big Three generation, has been something special. Let’s enjoy their genius for as long as we can.
- Moya: Rafa’s Recovery Is Right On Track | ATP Tour
We’re working on his shape, his conditioning and on specific on-court tactics. Joan Forcades (Nadal’s physical trainer), Francisco Roig and I are preparing Rafa to be a more aggressive player — even moreso than he has been throughout his career. Matches are settled within four strokes and 70 per cent of that is the serve and how one returns, then what follows, plus the next shot.
It’s not the style of play Rafa prefers, but we’re working to find a way to make that sort of matchplay fit into his comfort zone. Rafa likes to find the rhythm, although he has shown that he can play just as well when there is no such rhythm to be found. I am very much instrumental when it comes to moulding Rafa in being more aggressive. Sometimes he gets it, other times he doesn’t.
I know we’ll never turn Rafa into a (Roger) Federer, (Milos) Raonic or (Tomas) Berdych, who all excel as two-shot players, but we have to try and push Rafa to come close to that, without losing the essence of his game. That’s why, in practice, we try new things and to instill confidence so that he can implement those techniques during matches.
- The Joy of Six: unsung sporting heroes of 2018 | The Guardian
Rafael Nadal was at his training centre in Mallorca when freakishly heavy rainfall floods hit the nearby town of Sant Llorenç des Cardassar in October, killing 13 people. “It was terrible,” he said. “Scary, and very sad. I really lived that tragedy from very close.” Given his proximity to the floods, and connection with the town – much of his mother’s family are from Sant Llorenç – a response was inevitable. But Nadal’s was above expectations as he headed to Sant Llorenç himself to assist with the clear-up operation, opening the doors of his training centre as a shelter, and donating £900,000 to victims of the flooding.
- Rafael Nadal pulls out of last match in Abu Dhabi | Sport 360