Rafael Nadal has ‘peace of mind’ ahead of Roland Garros, but room for improvement, says coach Francisco Roig
Rafael Nadal has found “peace of mind” by submitting his candidacy for a record 14th Roland Garros title, but there is still room for improvement, according to his coach Francisco Roig.
Nadal won two of four clay court events before Paris, lifting trophies in Barcelona and Rome but losing in the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo and Madrid.
While he’ll start off as a big favorite to defend his title at Roland Garros, Roig, who has worked with Nadal’s coaching staff since 2005, believes there are areas to work on.
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“For Roland Garros, I think it’s important to have more mobility. In terms of endurance, he was very good, he faced matches, but I think we have room for the improved movement, ”Roig told ATP.com.
“He could still be a little more dynamic in forward and sideways movement. And he can also work on his serve, although he’s been getting better and better. [Novak] Djokovic was pretty good. “
Nadal beat Djokovic in the Italian Open final to secure his second clay swing title and finish his preparation for Roland Garros in the best possible style.
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Roig thinks the tournament was important for Nadal as he pulled off a tough draw on his way to lift the trophy.
“Having won two difficult matches against [Jannik] Sinner, who is a very difficult first round, and against [Denis] Shapovalov [who had two match points] gives you peace of mind on the court. In the final, it was very noticeable.
“When Rafa finds that peace of mind he’s calm and can perform without rushing, and I think everything is much better. Finding that confidence is essential for him and for all the other players.”
Roig believes Djokovic, who won one of Roland Garros’ five finals, will be Nadal’s biggest rival in Paris with two-time runner-up Dominic Thiem.
“Djokovic is probably the opponent who can cause the most problems, with [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, [Alexander] Zverev and [Dominic] Thiem. However, if Thiem regains the pace and confidence he normally shows on clay, I would say I don’t see any difference between him and Djokovic.
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“Since winning the US Open he has fallen a bit, but I’m sure he will play well enough at Roland Garros and be a very tough opponent. He’s a very complete player, who asks a lot of each If you leave a ball slightly short, the point is over. Physically, it is very demanding. “
Nadal has won the French Open for the past four consecutive years and another victory would see him edging Roger Federer in the all-time Grand Slam standings.
Roig believes the 34-year-old will try to keep the points short in Paris, although he is also capable of winning longer rallies.
“If you look at the stats you will see that Rafa is a player who is not too suited to long points. If that happens it means that the quality of the ball is not so good because he did not been able It’s strange to think so, but the statistics show it to be true.
“Those long runs happen when Rafa doesn’t hit the ball as well as he needs to, but he’s able to play another shot. But when he hits it well, in three or four strokes he can finish it with a good deep comeback., go in the net …
“Somehow it’s more rewarding to hit the ball well and then the tactical side comes into play. I think even if a long game is fine for him – because mentally he’s a player who exhausts you a lot when he fights for every ball – he understands that he has to try to put everything in his shots so as not to have to play too long points. “
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