Nadal has always sought to adjust his game to adapt to different conditions,
and that is why he is a great champion.
strength has seen him achieve things that no one believed he could, through
masterfully turning around tough situations.
Rafa boasts amazing court coverage and endurance. Nothing seems to surprise
him. He always strikes the ball with great power while the rotation speed has
been measured as the fastest ever.
always finds new challenges, new ways to compete: tennis, golf, football or
video games, everything he touches immediately turns into a fight for victory.
He does not sleep a lot, trains at full intensity and seeks hobbies to keep
boredom at bay.
champion who has triumphed on all surfaces was forced to change his game to
adjust to the conditions: tactically through working on sequences efficient on
a certain surface, physically on the levels needed on that surface and mentally
by learning patience, for example, or else the need to take the first
opportunity to attack.
the Spaniard has gone further than anybody before.
main areas he has changed are his serve and forehand. Beside the strategy, the
fitness or the mind, Nadal is the only one ever to have made a deep technical
change to his motion in order to counteract tactical situations that were going
chameleon is always moving forward, looking to improve, making it difficult for
his opponents to find an answer to him. Only his mental strength has remained stationary,
so good was it to start with - he has the best ratio of wins in five-set
matches of anybody still playing.
1: The Age of Innocence (until 2005)
his first triumph at Roland Garros, the young Nadal (pictured in 2003) was not thoughtful on
technique, which he considered natural and instinctive. Nor was he or his uncle
Toni worried about it; still in development, he was improving day by day, as
shown by the evolution of his ranking.
allowed him to learn how to use his ability to become efficient. Every match
played helped him learn how to behave in order to win, through solving the
issues each rival brought to the table. Little by little, he also improved physically
and his temper saw him achieve an out-of-this-world level of fitness.
displayed a lot of fluidity. It was the shot that allowed him to take the lead
during points, enabling him to send his opponents all over the court. He found
amazing angles with it and the quality of his topspin forced rivals to stand a
long way from the baseline - meaning Nadal was safe from attack. His favourite
shot was the short inside-out forehand which allowed him a great impact with
the outcome - because of the speed generated by the motion - and also to keep
an accurate position regarding the ball's rebound height. He used his right
hand to prepare this motion, which ended in a big preparation loop.
the great tradition of Spanish tennis, the serve is considered a minor shot,
merely one that starts the point. At the start of his career, young Nadal was
taken into this stereotype. He did not have many aces or winners. This did not
play against him much because he mostly shone on clay, with his main goal being
victory at Roland Garros. He used the slice a lot in order to get to his opponent's
backhand and try to get back on his own forehand. Not feeling very comfortable
with the serve, Nadal picked a rather shortened and compact preparation,
directly armed, in a Roddick kind of way. His lack of power came from both a lack
of speed generated by the head of the racquet, which stayed too parallel with the
ground, and him not achieving enough forward motion.