This article is a continuation of “Tennis: To make the opponent play another ball, or hit a winner.”
Based purely on the playing style, one doesn’t need to look further than Nadal, for justification of 138 Rule. Rafael Nadal, however, is an enigma and, like Andy Murray, may even be an anomaly, albeit from a different perspective.
The ultimate grinder with tennis-talent!
Rafa’s grinding-and-retrieving style is punctuated so often by near-perfect approaches to the net and impeccable volleys. Rafael Nadal, however, rarely implements the aggressive, net-rushing tactics, on important points, when they could serve him well.
Why doesn’t Rafa approach the net more?
Why isn’t Nadal comfortable with approaching the net more often? Hasn’t he been told that, with his playing style, the net rushing, chip-charge, and serve-and-volley could serve as effective point-enders and help prolong his career and overtake Roger’s slam-count? Nadal, we believe, knows that at 32 he’d be better served by adding the surprise elements to his baseline-grind, and yet he continues to grind-away!
Nadal displays the signs of an excessively talented player!
That Rafael Nadal was able to develop his forehand into a weapon at a young age, and applied it to win the French Open as a teenager, in 2005, is a resounding testament to his immense-talent, which, perhaps, was subdued by his superhuman physical attributes and affected by the switch into a left-hander while being a natural right-hander.
Rafa, however, plays like a grinder.
Rafa plays the game like a grinder and depends entirely on his physicality and the never-say-die spirit to win matches. He takes the ball late and almost always on the back-foot and stays between five and ten feet behind the baseline. His forehand too is a product of brute strength and not timing. There is too much effort to his game whereas the excessively-talented, like Roger Federer, appear to play with no effort at all.
Did the switch to becoming a left-hander affect Nadal’s talent?
The switch to becoming a left-hander while being a natural right-hander is bound to affect the natural playing style. In Nadal’s case, it made him more dependent on his strength at the cost of timing. His natural talent, which could have helped him turn into an aggressive player, was instead used up for honing the high-margin grinding style of play. By turning left-handed, Nadal lost confidence in his natural abilities and talent to help him develop the low-margin aggressive style. He dedicated his talent to master over the grind.
Could Rafael Nadal have won as many Wimbledons and, the Australian and US Opens as the French, if he was coached to develop his natural right-hand style?