Game Analysis – Rafael Nadal

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Watching the top tennis professionals playing can give you some real pointers and suggestions that you could introduce into your own game.

Make time to sit with your tennis coach to watch footage of your heroes so that you can discuss some plus things that would be useful to any of your problem areas.

In this blog we focus on one of the modern greats and perhaps one of the best male players of all time, Rafael Nadal.

The Spanish maestro has been a phenom from a very early age, he started playing tennis at four and even then showed talent.

At the age of 15, Nadal already had won his first game on the ATP tour and a year later he was named Newcomer of the year on tour.

Technical

  • Forehand

Rafa’s forehand is one of the best in the game, although his technique is not orthodox it still is a feared part of his armoury. He develops a tremendous spin on the shot possibly more than any of his contemporaries. With this spin his shots jump higher than any other kicks on the tour.

To achieve all this his grip is extreme, it is something perhaps that should not be copied but it works well for him.

  • Backhand

Nadal is a very aggressive backhand player and hardly ever slices the ball. His technique is generally sound with a big inside-out swing pattern. His upper body generates most of the power and Rafa is more than comfortable attempting a winner with this shot from almost anywhere on the court.

Nadal’s really effective and aggressive backhand poses a conundrum to his opponent, as he really does not have a weak side.

  • Slice

A recent addition to Rafa’s game is the sliced backhand, especially when he is playing defensively. He has not quite perfected this, and he tends to leave the racket face too open and thus chops down on the ball. The effect of this is that the ball has too much sidespin and tends to float too high.

  • Volley

Rafa is a player that is not really admired for his net game, possibly because his grip is too strong which is OK with the forehand but not backhand volley. Again the racket face is too open so he compensates with his wrist by chopping down.

Still Rafa is not afraid to come into the net and he can easily finish points using his volleys.

  • Serve

Nadal has really improved this part of his game. He is comfortable going for aces and serving winners against any opponent.

His serve has had continual development, in the past his grip was not quite right and his arm was too straight. But now the finished shot is technically very sound and the movement he uses is very fluid.

Rafa is the perfect example of somebody who could see deficiencies in his game and worked hard to correct them. A model professional that all budding players would do well to try and copy.