Nadal said he has had to alter his service motion in order to manage the pain. “It’s difficult for people who don’t play tennis professionally to understand. But clearly the shot that is limited is my serve,” he said.
“In the other shots, I’m not limited. What happens is when you serve [with the injury], you have to be careful with every movement. So when the serve lands and you have to follow up the second ball, the recovery is slower.
“This has repercussions in the general game. It doesn’t allow you to play with the aggression or intensity that gives you the fact of playing without having to think. When you serve every time thinking of what to do so that you don’t worsen the situation, then clearly the whole game is affected.”
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“He [Nadal] played incredibly aggressively and it was a really good showing,” was Eurosport expert Mats Wilander’s verdict after the match.
“His play has been extremely aggressive and he was playing very quickly, something he has been trying to do lately in his career to try and shorten the points as much as possible.”
Wilander also noted that Nadal’s huge, flat backhand was even more destructive than his famously powerful forehand – “the first time I’ve seen that.”
“He’s hitting it harder on the backhand side than on the forehand, and part of that is Nadal wanting to shorten points; the courts are quicker so he doesn’t have time to run around and hit forehands. So he needs to hit flat backhands.”
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The 20-time Grand Slam champion hit with the teenager in a closed training session on John Cain Arena last week and was notably impressed.
“He’s very good. He’s very young. He has everything to improve in the future with his age,” Nadal said after both reached the second round.
“He already is where he is, and he has a lot of great things on his game. I really believe that he will have a great future because he’s a good guy, humble, a hard worker. He has a lot of positive things.”
PHOTOS: Rafa’s presser after first round win
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