“I’m surprised [by Rafa’s form],” Toni Nadal told Cadena SER.
“Because, I remember when three days before [leaving for Australia], Rafa called my youngest son to hit a few balls after being quarantined due to coronavirus.
“At nine o’clock, we went to train and during training, he said, “I don’t know if I’m going to go or not because at the moment I’m not in condition for the Australian Open. He only had three days to get a flight. The following day, he perked up and said “Okay, come on, I’m going”. I think it was more the excitement of competing and returning to competition than believing in himself.”
Rafael Nadal committed 11 double faults against Denis Shapovalov in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, more than he had in any previous match of his ATP Tour career. But the Spaniard and his team were unperturbed by a stat that they see more as the collateral effect of Rafa’s plan for 2022: to serve faster on his second serve.
“[Rafa] is realising how many free points he’s getting. The other day I was talking to him about it before his match against [Adrian] Mannarino. He served 16 aces and six doubles,” said one of Nadal’s coaches, former World No. 1 Carlos Moya. “I told him that I would far prefer that to three aces and no double faults. Because at the end of the day you want the points to be shorter, you want to be aggressive. And the first opportunity to do that is the serve.”
Just five years ago in Melbourne, Nadal’s goal in his first Grand Slam with Moya as one of his coaches was to go from a 140km/h average to 150km/h for his second serve. The progress since then has been remarkable. “Our first goal was to reach 150km/h in 2017, when he was at 135 to 140. But this tournament has shown that his average is now over 160,” said Moya.
- Rafael Nadal Inching Toward Record Slam at Australian Open, But a New Rival Looms | Sports Illustrated
Jon, I watched Nadal play and have been blown away by his level, especially at 35. How can it be that he has won the Australian only once?
Jon Wertheim: He has won only once (2009), but he’s had plenty of success. And realistically he could have three or four titles. His body gave out against Stan Wawrinka. He lost that absurd final to Novak Djokovic in ’12. He had Federer up a break in the fifth set in ’17. I remember Jim Courier speculating a few years ago that Nadal needed some time to work his way into a season and for all the players who could start the year hot (see: Agassi), Nadal wasn’t necessarily one of them.
- ‘Corrupt’ claims at umpire over Rafael Nadal time-wasting at Australian Open ‘wrong, strange’ – Alex Corretja | Eurosport
“It is strange that he [Shapovalov] says that about Rafa when, for me, he is one of the most respectful players with his rivals, and I think he is also wrong about treatment in his favour,” Corretja told Eurosport Spain.
“With Rafa, they [the umpires] are also always very attentive and alert him that he has to play faster. At the time, at the beginning of the second set, I think Shapovalov was a little tense. He started looking at the clock, and he saw that Rafa was not ready when he was playing very fast, and I think he wanted to speed up his pace. I think that an opportunity has escaped him, and he has also felt that. In my opinion, his frustration later in the press conference came from that.”
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