After 1107 matches since he turned professional in 2001, world No.2, Rafael Nadal has tweaked his service game in time for the start of the 2019 Australian Open, which serves off on Monday.
The 32-year-old is gunning for an 18th Grand Slam title and his coach, Carlos Moya revealed on the ATP’s official website that the Spaniard is hoping the tweaked service game would help snag a second Australian Open title.
“We’re looking to maximise damage from the onset, and one way to do that is with a faster, more aggressive serve,” Moya told ATPTour.com on Thursday.
“We’ve been working out the mechanics of his serve; his motion now is more fluid. Before, the ball he served lost power immediately after bouncing. That isn’t the case anymore; his serve maintains speed now after making contact with the court, making it that much more potent.”
Nadal’s second coach, Francisco Roig revealed the mechanics that have been applied to change Nadal’s serving rhythm.
“The change is based on three pillars,” Roig said.
“The first is that when he executes the swing, he takes his hand away from the ball quicker, instead of letting his hand linger. Second, Rafa is working on staying more upright and using his size, rather than launching into the serve by twisting and recoiling.
“That extra spring motion actually resulted in a reduction of power after the ball bounced. The last thing we’re working on is getting Rafa to plant his right foot in the court upon landing from his serve.
“An added benefit is that his second serve is also going to throw opponents off. It might be a more risky approach, but the positive part is that his opponents won’t be looking at the same high bounce; they’ll have to be more on their toes and react faster instead of just keeping the ball in play.”
Moya then added: “This isn’t some radical change; it’s just adjusting a weapon we believe will take him to even higher levels.”
Nadal hasn’t played competitively since September 2018.
Moya further revealed that the new serve has been tested and is ready for official unveiling on Monday when he starts his 2019 season against James Duckworth.
“Rafa has taken onboard adjustments to his game in the past,” Moya said. “This is just one more chapter in his career, and another addition to his development.”
It will be interesting to see whether this would help snag another title in Australia.