Thursday, May 15, 2014

How Rafael Nadal can beat Novak Djokovic on Clay

Update: Changed point #5

For those of you who have not been following the happenings of the 2014 Men's Tennis Clay court season, here are the highlights:
  1. Rafael Nadal lost in the quarter-finals of two tournaments that he has dominated since anyone can last remember (he has won each of the tournaments 8-times)
  2. He is being pushed around the court by players outside of the top-10 routinely (e.g., Giles Simon, Mikhail Youzhny). These are players whom Rafa used to crush on Clay in years past.
  3. The French Open is coming to a TV screen near you soon!
So how can Rafa get back on track? After looking at footage from previous years of utter Clay court domination, here is my 5-step proposal:
  1. Stop running around his backhand so often - he is giving up too much court on the next ball because his forehand isn't what it used to be (point 2)

  2. Find the lines, or the area closer to the lines, a little more often with his forehand. For instance, Nadal needs to hit the down the line a lot more.

  3. Come to net more and finish points earlier

  4. Protect his service games -> 1), 2) and 3) will help with that significantly

  5. Return second serves from the baseline with flatter shots, increasing pressure on his opponents