Backhand in slow motion

Did I mention…shirtless? Video here.

I need a moment…

41 Responses

  1. kefuoe says:

    As a recreational tennis player, this video is incredibly informative. I will watch it again and again.

    • miri says:

      To improve your tennis. Uh-huh.

      And he’s got the bandage on his tummy – so this was when he had the abdominal tear. Ouch!

    • jimmy says:

      Yes it’s good. If you’re really looking to improve the backhand I would suggest watching slow mo videos of Murray and Djokovic also. As Nadal’s a natural righty, he uses more of his right hand, sort of like muscling the ball which makes it harder for him to change direction and hit down the line as effectively. as say, someone like Djokovic. However he does have incredible penetration and angle on his backhand crosscourt. Furthermore his running backhand passes are arguably the best in the history of the game.

      On a related note, I think Nadal is hitting his backhand pretty well so far this year. He’s definitely re-tooling his game on trying be more aggressive (unlike last yr). That’s been biggest problem on hardcourts. He used to hit flat and aggressively as a teen, but then his coach made him change his style to be more passive (for clay) and developed the lasso topspin forehand which won him 6 grandslams. They had stats for the matches in Doha and Nadal was hitting 15% more balls inside or near the baseline compared to what he was doing in Shanghai. I saw all his matches in Doha against the lower ranked opponents, and he was forcing himself to step forward closer to the baseline. It was almost awkward. The only thing left is that I haven’t seen a lot of the flat forehand that made it’s debut in AO 2009. He’s still finishing over his head and it would help a lot if he goes across. This would give the shot a lot more penetration and make Rafa’s life easy – particularly on the return of serve when he’s running around his backhand but unable to get the ball deep (as he’s 10+ meters behind the baseline).

      • miri says:

        Did the flat forehand make its debut last year? I thought he’s been hitting it all along, just not as often. He’s definitely done the “across the body” follow through in addition to the buggy-whip follow through for years.

        • jimmy says:

          Well put. ‘Debut’ is perhaps the wrong word. He was hitting it before too (ex. IW 2007 vs Roddick). But at AO 09 he was much more consistent with it even on the hooked lefty cross court forehand, to the pt that it was easily discernible (almost) as a change of action to those who don’t watch Nadal closely. That said, I haven’t seen across the body follow-through as much as I expected this year. However he’s hitting the ball with much more depth than last year so his opponents haven’t been able to step in and hit the ball on the up. Which is why Rafa’s done well (so far).

          • miri says:

            The few times I’ve seen him practice, he mainly hits with the across the body follow through…and then went out to play with the buggy-whip. Again, it seems to be a confidence thing.

            • jimmy says:

              Right. Confidence is big for Rafa. When he’s at his peak mentally, he’s very hard to beat.

              I’ve never seen anyone use momentum and confidence as effectively as Nadal does. How often have we seen him playing great tennis in one tournament and then fading in the next? When he hits his stride, he takes full advantage and goes on a great run. That’s happened several times in his career:

              -2006 won the entire clay season used momentum to go to Wimb F.
              -2007 starting from Indian Wells won everything until Wimb F
              -2008 went on a tear from Monte Carol to Olympics ( 8 titles, 10 finals)
              -2009 won AO and then used the momentum to rack up every tournament in sight ( 5 titles out of 7 tournaments)

              I don’t think he played all that well in 2009 after the AO, but he took full advantage of all the momentum he had. How many matches did he win after looking all but done?

              Right now Nadal seems to be at cross-roads mentally. But he’s rebounded from worse before. Once he gets his confidence back he will start hitting the ball flatter and start winning. To do that he does “not” even need to raise his level significantly. When he’s really confident, his focus on court is second to none. And at that time he’s the hardest player to beat on the tour.

              Personally, I hope he can start to peak mentally around the clay season and carry it forward to Wimbledon this year.

      • faeaki7 says:

        Particularly on the return of serve when he’s running around his backhand but unable to get the ball deep (as he’s 10+ meters behind the baseline.)

        Well said, this can be so frustrating whilst watching him do this.

        The fact that Rafa does play with his left although giving him advantages has also posed him some problems, like your analysis Jimmy.
        On the other hand though, he shows how special he is because he has managed to adapt the way he has and still be so successful, well at least up and till now, this is what has made Rafa so unique and one of a kind, I don’t think alot of people give him enough credit or even realise why he plays the way he does is because he isn’t a natural lefty, hence the serve!

        • Rafafan says:

          OK starting to read – bed time in England. But heah, had to say like you, I cannot STAND (sorry shouty) the way he runs around the backhand. It infuriates me and there are SO many cheap points. What going on there – Jimmy (your the analysist). So Faeaki7 and Jimmy, whats it to b. Rafa gonna do it yes? or as Rafa says no?

      • Rafafan says:

        Jimmy – chill out. Got to the first para and Rafa’s body well says it all and can’t relly look at anything else !! ….. what do you think? …… U r so great with your analyse but couldn’t read the rest of it – 2 distracted (OK late in England and about to go to bed – nearly midnight and gotta go to work) but heah will read it in the morning before work. I do respect your analyse. Rafa win yeah – whats your betting odds?

        • miri says:

          Let’s not resort to telling people to chill out, okay? And please stop with the text speak.

          • Rafafan says:

            Hi Miri – don’t understand. At what point do you mean about the chilling out and text.Jimmy slightly carried away I thought , when meant to be fun thats all! I was saying in a nutshell after seeing Rafa in all his flesh as you posted no? – not the heavy strategy of tennis from the pic. Duno what you mean about the txt bit Sorry if it upset u. Night x

            • miri says:

              I’m saying Jimmy was doing just fine and didn’t need to be told to chill out. If he wants to analyze while everyone else drools, that’s his prerogative. It’s also entirely on-topic since the video was made so people could study technique.

              And text speak is stuff like “u” instead of “you”, “txt” instead of “text” and “2” instead of “two”. It’s highly annoying.

              • Denizen says:

                Count me as a fan of Jimmy’s analysis and spelling and grammar. *cheers*

                I hadn’t noticed before how Rafa’s follow-through appears to hit his shoulder blades.

                • jimmy says:

                  That’s exactly what I meant. The follow through hits the shoulder blades because it’s a reverse forehand (buggy whip). This is commonly used when players are hitting the ball on the run, returning serve, or are generally out of position as the rotation of the body stops after contact with the ball hence necessitating the reverse motion to stop the racquet. Pete Sampras used it first while hitting his legendary running cross court forehands. Sharapova and Davenport use it on the WTA. Nadal uses the buggy whip a lot because he’s constantly sliding on the clay and hitting balls on the run and the reverse motion allows a lot of topspin because of wrist action.

                  However I’ve seen the Spanish coaches claim that Nadal uses the reverse finish when he is not really playing well as he is defending too much. He has poor positioning a long way behind the baseline and is not in an position to attack or impose his game on anyone which is logical

                  That is something Rafa and his team were working on him doing less unless it’s absolutely needed. Hence we saw Nadal taking the ball on the up in AO 09 and hitting across his body instead of the reverse buggy whip forehand motion. That’s a good way to gauge his confidence level, which is why I would like to see him do it more often this year.

                  • jimmy says:

                    I guess I might be beating a dead horse here. But for those who’re interested in the different ways that Nadal hits his forehands, here’s a GREAT slow-motion video examining multiple shots:


                    Watch how he rotates his body all through when he hits across while attacking. The buggy whip is where he reverses direction, the racquet starts by moving left-to-right (like a normal follow through) but reverses direction approx. halfway into the follow through and travels right-to-left. The body rotation stops after the ball leaves the strings and the reverse finish slows the racquet down. The exaggerated (very steep) follow through plus some incredible wrist-work together put unprecedented spin on the ball. No wonder Nadal’s left arm is so big.

                    • faeaki7 says:

                      thanks for the forehand clip Jimmy, really interesting to see excatly what you are trying to explain, and you are right this explains the over developed left arm! wow..

    • Isabelle says:

      Yes, I will be watching it again and again too, but it has nothing to do with the tennis!

  2. Marla says:

    No tape, no tape, no tape. :(

    • miri says:

      No worries – this is old footage.

      • Karen says:

        Gorgeous, tanned, muscle rippling,focused,hot & sexy Rafa. Says it all!!

      • k says:

        You should have said earlier..People are having heart attacks here..:)

        • Emma R says:

          Bloody hell yes, went into blind panic for a second there and abandoned the topless glory in mid stream to come flying back here to see if others had noticed the tape! Phew to infinity.

          You can’t half see his ribs. I don’t usually have a maternal bone in my body but I want to take him home and bake cakes for him.

    • Marla says:

      sorry, thought this was recent proactice vid for a minute. Whew. Again – no tape, no tape, no tape :).

  3. Susanna says:

    ..Curious about what everyone has heard about the following: Before Christmas I read that Rafa’s old coach from his childhood (Toni Colom?) was working with him and Toni. Also, heard that he had changed his strings (he certainly was hitting the ball better in Doha). Anyone know anything about these two issues?

  4. faeaki7 says:

    No I didn’t hear this? they have a new addition to his camp? who’s Toni Colom? anyone else know anything about this. *Anxious as hell to find out*

    • miri says:

      Toni Colom worked with Rafa in his junior days and is currently working with British player James Ward – who went to hit with Rafa in Mallorca during the break. Based on pictures google images is showing me, the man in the photo could well be Colom.

      As if Rafa’s family isn’t confusing enough with all the Rafaels in it…he has to have multiple Tonis as coaches?

  5. Susanna says:

    The Australian Open draw is supposed to streamed live on the AO site. Is anyone getting/seeing the stream? Although I’m not sure I want to see it. Always get nervous before the draws.

  6. jimmy says:

    AO draw just came out. Nadal will have to beat Murray in the QFs , Del Potro in the SF and Federer in the final to win the Australian Open, according to seeding.
    That’s just the ” Worst” possible draw for Nadal given how he matches up with other players. In fact I had thought whichever player faced Murray in the QF and Delpo in the SF would have a very hard time. It happens to be Rafa. On another note, Murray and Nadal have this propensity of landing in the same half of the draw for several slams now.

    • melancho says:

      a davy-djoko combo isn’t appetizing either. murray’s tricky but definitely beatable if rafa’s on.

  7. Suzanne says:

    Everyone is writing about the coach from when Rafa was young, Toni Colom, but I was wondering…does anyone else remember the piece that the Tennis Channel did on Rafa during the Miami tourney when he beat Fed for the first time? His “fill-in” coach was a guy with long-ish gray hair, and I can’t remember his name. I haven’t seen him around since, but he seemed like a close insider type at the time, and even called him Rafi.

  8. An says:

    I know this vid is supposed to show us how Rafa is a backhand……
    But sorry, it failed in that big time for me:)
    Evry time i try to pay attention to the tennis technique i’m distracted off that after two seconds!!! ;) I don’t even notice that he’s hitting anything anymore….. just thinking, wanna.touch.wanna.touch.wanna.touch

  9. mary from cincinnati says:

    All I can do is drool again…..just as I did when I watched him practice….this is footage from Cincinnati….the best practice Video of Rafa ever!!! (For those who study his motions scientifically and for those who study him!)

  10. Spring says:

    This video is from Cincinnati 2009. It sure is impressive, no? Thanks for posting it.