- ‘Nearly Impossible Against Rafael Nadal’ – Mats Wilander On Why He’s So Tough At Roland Garros | Eurosport
“The ball bounces so high that Popyrin cannot control it at all,” Wilander said.”When Rafa hits that return, two-and-a-half meters over the net, and it has 4,000rpms on it… I played with Rafa once and that was the problem. You could hit shots that literally clear the fence if you mishit them a little bit, so it is nearly impossible to control.”
Fellow Eurosport expert Alex Corretja agreed: “The thing is, the ball bounces so high up to you, and players like Popyrin like to hit the ball flat.”But if the ball bounces and it comes up to your head, it’s so difficult to control, and that’s why he shanked it with his racket and it’s not that easy to play with him.”
How is Rafa?
He’s doing very well coming in. We’ve combined matches with more specific training sessions, as we almost always do. His preparation has been good, but [the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in] Rome was a turning point, above all the match with Denis Shapovalov.
Because until then he’d had doubts, good days and bad days, insecurities… When he won, he took a step forward and found the consistency he was looking for. I’m sure that we will still see more from Rafa, which he is showing in training. Now it’s a question of playing that level in competition.
Iga Swiatek enjoyed an early birthday present over the weekend when she arrived at Roland Garros and practiced with childhood idol Rafael Nadal.
“It was great,” she recalled after her first-round victory over Kaja Juvan. “It wasn’t a surprise because I had to prepare. Write some small topics, not to have awkward silence. But Rafa is really, really great. He’s a really nice guy. Even though I am pretty introverted, it was really fun for me.”
“That’s pretty cool to hear, to be honest,” she told the reporter. “It feels pretty good. Obviously somebody I look up to and walking around I still get starstruck by him, like it’s Rafa Nadal. So it’s pretty cool that he said that about me.”
The reporter informed Gauff that Nadal told her that she likely didn’t need any advice from him—that she was doing just fine by herself. To which she replied: “I mean, I know he says I don’t need advice, but, I mean, anything from Rafa would be great.”
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