Rafael Nadal returned to action after withdrawing from the Paris Masters 1000 as well as the ATP World Tour Finals in the latter half of 2018, citing a surgery in his right ankle. The Spaniard lost his opening match against South African Kevin Anderson at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. However, we got to see a whole new Rafael Nadal in his first match, giving us a glimpse of what we could expect from him in his coming matches.
For long we have known Rafael Nadal, to be a defensive player, who has returned serves from at-least a meter behind the baseline. However, in today’s match the Spaniard looked to be aggressive on the second serves, standing well ahead of his routine return position. However, the aggressiveness did not pay of much as he committed unforced errors on important points, which decide the outcome of the match.
Rafael Nadal also looked to tweak his service motion, which looked to be more straight than usual. It looks as if he has taken a long term measure to reduce the stress on the freshly operated ankle. His earlier service motion would have put much more weight on his ankles, however, now it is little more stiffer, and quicker. There is a lot more reduction in the rotation of his body, which was vaguely indicated by the practice sessions in his off-season work in his home town. It will be interesting to see how these new tactics pan out in the near future, as we keep a close eye on the serve, and if Rafael Nadal has deployed any more new changes in his game play.
He will play another match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, before he heads to Australia to take part at the Fast4 Exhibition tournament, and later on the Australian Open.