Rafael Nadal’s ability to strategise his shot-making gives him a competitive edge but that approach is starting to die out in professional tennis, according to his coach Carlos Moya.
Moya, who is a former world No.1 player himself, believes his compatriot has managed to achieve so much success on the court due to how he handles different scenarios during a match. This season Nadal drew level for most Grand Slam titles won by a male player at 20 after triumphing at the French Open. Overall, he has achieved a win-loss record of 27-7 and reached the quarter-finals or better at every tournament he played in which helped him secure the year-end No.2 spot behind Novak Djokovic.
“There is always room for strategy. Rafa is a good example of this because he has a wide range of possibilities within his game and that is to be appreciated when building the points strategically,” Moya told Libertas Digital.
“At a general level, we (Nadal’s team) try to adapt to the surfaces and conditions that we face in each tournament. If you watch a Rafa match in London, you can see big differences from what he did a month before at Roland Garros.”
Although Nadal’s mentor admits that changes in the sport over recent years has made the process of strategising rallies less important due to the length of rallies decreasing. Leaving players with less time to plan their shots. However, Moya believes his team still has an advantage.
“It is true that this sense of adaptability and strategy is being lost. The players hit harder each time, the points last less and depending on the opponent you play against, you hardly have room for strategy during the point,” he said.
“The good thing is that Rafa does continue to do it and it is something that makes him different from the rest. He has different plans as the game progresses and he can read very well what to do during the clash. Knowing how to read what happens in the middle of the game, not afterwards, is what differentiates the very good from the rest.”
According to data published by the ATP on October 5th, Nadal won 60% (652/1092) of rallies that lasted between five and eight over a two-year period (2018-2020). The highest among all players on the men’s tour. He also won 55% (412/745) of rallies that lasted longer than nine shots during the same period which was the fifth best on Tour.
Moya is currently with Nadal training during the off-season. They will start the 2021 season in Australia where the start dates of the tournaments are still up in the air. Tennis Australia is currently in negotiations with the Victorian government and has said a plan will be finalised ‘very soon.’ Moya admits the uncertainty has made the usual planning for the season ahead tough.
“These are changes that we are getting to know and of which we are more or less up to date, but with this COVID, at the moment, not many plans can be made,” he explains.
“Right now what we know is that, to this day, you cannot go to Australia until January and for that and other reasons there are many things in the air. We still do not even know what the evolution of the virus will be and that is why we must be vigilant and open to any type of event.”
Moya has been a member of Nadal’s coaching team since December 2016.
John Isner upsets Andrey Rublev to reach quarterfinals in Madrid
John Isner is into the Madrid quarter-finals after a last set tiebreak win over Andrey Rublev.
The American once again needed three sets and two tiebreakers to earn a top 10 scalp.
John Isner booked his spot in the quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open by upsetting the number six seed Andrey Rublev 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 in two hours and five minutes hitting 43 winners and 29 aces in the win.
“I’ve always served well, the conditions for the server are fantastic, physically I was heavy-legged today, I finished late last night, the good thing is I finished a bit earlier today and I should be ready to go tomorrow, I’m going to need all of my legs tomorrow against Dominic (Thiem) and I’m looking forward to it for sure”.
The first set was pretty routine and we didn’t see a single break of serve the entire set as the first set would be decided by a tiebreaker. That’s where the American ran away with it jumping out to a 4-0 lead playing some great tennis and he would take it 7-4 to win the first set 7-6.
The Russian was keen to get back in the match in the second set and earned the first two breakpoints of the match at 1-1 and broke to take an early 2-1 lead. That break was all the number six seed needed to serve out the second set taking it 6-3 and setting up a deciding third set.
The number six seed once again had the first break opportunity of the third set but it was immediately saved with the big booming serve from the Greensboro, North Carolina native. That was the only breakpoint of the set and once again the match would be decided by a tiebreaker.
This one was much more closer and we didn’t see a break of serve until 4-3 when the American returned the Russian serve with a powerful forehand to take a 5-3 lead.
He would go on to serve it out to win the match and set up a quarterfinal encounter with the Austrian Domenic Them and he spoke about the matchup in his post-match press conference.
“He’s fresh, he’s won two matches and I think he is the second-best clay courter right now so it’s going to be a very tough task for me tomorrow especially on this court because he hits the ball so big and pretty fast and he does so many things well and I am going to have to play extremely well if I want any chance to beat him”
Theim currently holds a 2-1 lead in the head to head and their most recent meeting was back in 2017 in Laver Cup on an indoor hardcourt when the Austrian won in three sets.
Christian Garin reaches his second career Masters 1000 quarter final in Madrid
Chile’s Christian Garin has reached his second Masters 1000 quarter final with a 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 win over world number 3 Danil Medvedev at the Madrid Mutua Open.
Garin earned an early break after a loose service game from Medvedev at 1-1. The second set went on serve with no breaks of serve en route to the tie-break. Medvedev cruised through to a 7-3 win with two mini-breaks. Garin broke twice in the fourth and sixth games to claim the third set 6-1.
Garin will face either this year’s Serbian Open champion Matteo Berrettini or Federico Delbonis. The Chilean player is tied at 1-1 in his two head-to-head matches against Berrettini and won his only previous match against Delbonis en route to last year’s title at the Rio Open. Garin won all his five titles on clay in Houston and Munich in 2019, Rio de Janeiro and Cordoba in 2020 and Santiago de Chile in 2021.
Jannik Sinner Vows To ‘Come Back Stronger’ After Madrid Misfortune
The 19-year-old believes his latest loss will help him grow as a player.
Italian rising star Jannik Sinner has revealed that he was suffering from an allergy during his latest match at the Madrid Open but has insisted it wasn’t the reason for his loss.
The world No.18 crashed out of the tournament in straight sets on Wednesday to Australia’s Alexi Popyrin. A player ranked 57 places lower than him who has reached the third round of a Masters tournament for only the second time in his career. The Italian struggled behind his second serve where he won just 41% of the points. A frustrating outcome for Sinner who led the match 5-3 before losing 6-7(5), 2-6.
“I suffer from allergy and here there is a lot of pollen, I also play with contact lenses and everything. This bothered me a lot,” said Sinner who was coughing throughout the match.
“I suffered more because there was more sun and in that field (court) he entered easily, but I did not lose for this (reason). He played better than me.”
The 19-year-old has recently broken into the world’s top 20 following what has been a solid start to the season. At the Miami Open he became only the fourth teenager in history to reach the final after Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. On the clay he recently reached the semi-finals of the Barcelona Open before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Despite his disappointment in Madrid, Sinner is hoping that it will help him become an even better playing in the coming weeks heading into the French Open. A Grand Slam which he reached the quarter-finals at on his debut last year.
“This defeat helps me to grow, now I go to the court to work to be at the top for the next match. I’ll come back stronger than before,” he stated.
Sinner will be hoping to get back on track next week when plays his home tournament at the Italian Open. He made his Rome debut back in 2019 where he defeated Steve Johnson in the first round before going out. A year later he reached the third round before losing to Grigor Dimitrov in three sets.
As for Popyrin, he will face a showdown against top seed Rafael Nadal in Thursday.
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