“Room for Improvement”: Rafael Nadal’s Coach on Preparations for French Open 2021 Title Defense

Published 05/21/2021, 6:00 AM EDT
PARIS, FRANCE: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning a point during his Men’s Singles Final against Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day fifteen of the 2020 French Open at Roland Garros in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)


The King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, has had yet another unrivaled season on the red dirt. Out of his four tournaments so far, the Spaniard reached the quarterfinals in two, while he championed the Barcelona Open and the Italian Open titles. However, the final test, the French Open 2021, is still pending. For this, his coach, Francisco Roig, is calling for improvements.

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The former Spanish professional, Roig, has been working with Rafa since his early days. He works as an alternative coach for the Spaniard’s main man Carlos Moya.

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Coach reveals points of improvement for Rafael Nadal ahead of French Open 2021

At the Italian Open 2021, the 20-time Grand Slam champion had Roig by his side. Accordingly, after careful observation, the coach laid down some parameters to improve on before going to Paris.

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 16, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his final match against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Primarily, the Spanish coach emphasized Rafael Nadal‘s agility and movement on the clay. Although the 34-year-old dictated most of his opponents, there were minor loopholes in his game.

“Looking ahead to Roland Garros, I think a little more mobility is important. At the level of aerobic capacity, he has been very good, holding out in games,” Roig said. “But I think we have room for improvement when traveling. It can still be a more dynamic point, both forward and lateral mobility.

(All quotes are translated from Spanish to English via Google Translate)

Most significantly, the point of concern for the Spaniard was his service game. Even though he improved with every match, Roig believes he can still do better. “And the serve must also be worked on, although it has gotten better and better,” the coach answered.

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However, looking at the Italian Open 2021 final against Serbian Novak Djokovic, Roig felt confident. He even said that Rafa passed the test in every aspect of tennis.

“In fact, against Djokovic, he was already pretty good,” the coach concluded. Consequently, Nadal won his tenth Italian Open title over the Serbian 7-5, 1-6, 6-3.

Nadal chases record-extending 14th title in Paris

Unquestionably, Rafa will be the undisputed favorite at the French Open 2021. This year, he will defend his crown for the fifth consecutive year.

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning championship point during his Men’s Singles Final against Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day fifteen of the 2020 French Open at Roland Garros in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

However, since he is currently World No. 3, he might lock horns with Djokovic before the final. This could arguably be more interesting than the battle for the title.

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Above all, huge expectations will lie on the shoulders of the Spaniard in Paris. And now, only time will tell if he can live up to them again, or if Roland Garros will see a new winner.

The tournament will start on May 30, 2021. Who is your favorite for the title this year?

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Purav Joshi

802 articles

Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.

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