Over on the Times Online site, former tennis player Pat Cash has posted an article about the changes Rafa has been working on for his game.
For all his career, Rafa seemed to hit up through the ball on his forehand while his body was in effect falling backwards. Most of us use body momentum going forward to get power on the shot but he’s the opposite and his follow-through used to see the racket end up above his head in a most individual style. Now the clear intent is for him to hit the ball more traditionally, coming across his body so that the end of the forehand stroke sees the racket in the backhand position level with his right shoulder.
Like the writer of the Time Magazine article, I think Cash misses the intent of the change. I don’t think Rafa and Toni are trying to replace his trademark forehand; they are trying to add some variety to his game – another type of shot in his arsenal for when Plan A isn’t working against an opponent.