Thanks to patzin for pointing out this article at the timesonline site by RafaFan Neil Harman. It includes some quotes from Rafa’s part-time coach, Francisco Roig.
“I have never seen Rafa play like he has this year in my life,” Roig, a 41-year-old former tour pro, said. “In Qatar, in Abu Dhabi, in the first two sets against Andy [Murray] and this week, we have seen he is a more complete player, someone who is able to do more things with his game.”
So, what of the doom-mongers? “People have no idea,” he said. “To talk about these things, you have to be inside of the work day to day, to know what he can do. I see him on the practice court every day and I am surprised every day.
“I stand behind him and I do not know how a player can hit the ball so strong, so good. I have never seen anyone in this sport who can arrive at a ball with not a good stance and still generate so much power. That is something he has had all his life, but now we are adding to his game.”
Surprised every day? That’s a good new, no?
Nadal, the world No 3, has never had a devastating serve, his ground strokes lacked on different surfaces the bite he could rouse from the clay, so they needed to acquire a flatter trajectory. The assault on his limbs from hard-court tournaments would always count against him. Roig believes that he has four, maybe five years at 100 per cent and then he may have to call it a day.
I don’t like to think about the end of RafaTennis, but if he can have that much longer at 100%, it would be a good length career.
“Rafa has finished four years as the No 2 player in the world and one as the No 1,” he said. “And he still has the ambition to win the big tournaments. I asked him once how many grand slams [tournaments] he thought he would win and he said, ‘Six, seven?’. I said for a player of his talents, he should have between eight and ten because he is a better player than those who have that number, in my opinion.
“But tennis is much, much tougher now than it was three years ago, especially among the top players.”
He’s already met the low end of that goal…I like Roig’s idea better.
“He feels he is a really good player again,” Roig said. “It has never been only power with Rafa, but ability also and people do not see that. It is not always nice the way he does it, he is not [Tim] Henman. This is a different tennis. Sometimes, at the important moments, it is more important to be a mechanical player than a smooth one. Rafa knows the importance of how much risk he can take, and what risk is beneficial.”
Results over ego – get the job done and don’t worry what the hell you look like. When I first saw Rafa play, I wasn’t a fan. I was one of those people who couldn’t see beyond the power. I’m glad I finally did.