Rafael Nadal reveals tips that can give players an edge on their opponents

     Rafael Nadal has been called ‘The King of Clay’ after winning multiple titles on the red surface. But he’s had some dangerous opponents to wipe him out in many matches and tournaments. It may be embarrassing at times when he gets defeated, but it’s part of being an iconic professional tennis player. “…There are no easy rivals…every one of those brings maximum pressure”, Nadal has explained. This might be the first rule of thumb on players who could take some opponents too lightly. 

     He was tested when he recently played against Andrey Rublev at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in April. Three times was the charm for the Russian who managed to cap his first win from the Spaniard. Nadal was devastated saying “Today was one of those days that my serve was a disaster.” The Clay King would advise that if you were able to keep your serve accurate and punishing, it has a good chance of bringing success.

     Another important factor for gaining a win over your opponent is to always feel confident in your style of play. Believing in oneself is the best thing closest to achieving a win. It works well to feel less intimidated as possible. “When you serve with no confidence, you are just focusing on trying to serve, not thinking about how you want to (hit) the ball,” the Spaniard wholeheartedly believes. There is the bulk of the game after serving that needs to be addressed so confidence is the key.

     Another point that Rafa finds consistent with doing well on the court is who wins the opening set. The idea of grabbing the first set gives players the mental ability to do well in the second. “It feels like a positive start when you win in straight sets. It’s important for confidence…” he smilingly says. A straight-set win is the equivalent of a hole in one at Golf. Grabbing two sets with a normal formatted tournament gives players the mental energy to go on to the next round and tournament. It also builds up a reputation and this can function as mental anguish on a player that doesn’t have that skill on their resume.

     But it was the match of dreams when Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman came up against Rafael Nadal at the Italian Open in Rome this year. He had a terrible record of playing Nadal 11 times and had lost all of the matches. But this match was special and Schwartzman’s motto on winning his first time over Rafa was that “I told myself not to miss one ball.” This was the major key for Diego to end his losing streak over the Spaniard who seemed invincible, but the strategy worked.  There are many methods to every players’ madness that pushes them to up their game level and perhaps win over their most diabolical, difficult opponents. The idea of finding that one or a few systems to put into play to win consistently may take a few months, a year or one’s entire career to be a success at the game many have learned and performed their entire lives.

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