Former Champion Reveals Rafael Nadal’s Key Tactics at Australian Open 2021

Published 02/10/2021, 12:30 AM EST
Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts during his first round match against Serbia’s Laslo Djere REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake


Despite battling a lingering back injury, Rafael Nadal didn’t show any signs of worry during his routine straight-sets win over Laslo Djere in the opening round of the 2021 Australian Open.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Nadal pulled out of this year’s ATP Cup because of this back problem, hence his preparations for the Australian Open haven’t been ideal.

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his first round match against Serbia’s Laslo Djere REUTERS/Loren Elliott

During an interview, the 7-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander talked about being impressed by Nadal’s first-round performance.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Wilander noted Nadal’s flattened backhand returns have been more destructive than his powerful forehands and helped him in shortening the points.

“He’s hitting it harder on the backhand side than on the forehand, and part of that is Nadal wanting to shorten points; the courts are quicker, so he doesn’t have time to run around and hit forehands. So he needs to hit flat backhands,” said Wilander.

Wilander on Rafael Nadal’s penchant for early season injuries

Former World No.1 Wilander also offered an insight into Nadal’s persistent injury struggles, especially at the start of the season. Nadal has a history of sustaining injuries during the Australian Open; something that has forced him to withdraw frequently.

At the 2014 Australian Open Final, Nadal encountered a back injury and lost the match, whereas he retired from the quarterfinals of the 2018 Australian Open against Marin Cilic because of a hip injury.

Tennis star Rafael Nadal of Spain practices at Melbourne Park in advance of the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Wilander feels Nadal’s injuries stem from the fact that the Spaniard has to practice on hard courts for a long duration before the Australian Open. Nadal’s high repetition training often ends up taking a toll on his body.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

However, Wilander also mentioned Nadal has earned enormous success with the training regime and injuries would not stop the 20-time Grand Slam champion from going the extra mile.

“It could be a combination of hard courts and practising; He needs more repetition and pushes himself hard. This is Rafa Nadal, this is what he has done throughout his whole career and he is going to push himself to the limit,” added Wilander.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

The Spaniard will face Michael Mmoh in the 2nd round at Melbourne Park. Nadal is aiming to become the first man in the Open Era to win each Grand Slam twice. Will he see his dream through to the end?

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Kshitij Tayal

389 articles

Kshitij Tayal is a tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having played district-level tennis competitions, Kshitij is also a tenured journalist of the sport with over four years of experience. At EssentiallySports, he pens down some thought-provoking pieces on players and tournaments across the ATP and WTA.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT