Rafael Nadal will commence his ATP World Tour Finals campaign today in London and he will also be coming back to Abu Dhabi in December for the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
Some people say that next year will be make or break for him but I’m reluctant to ever say something like that about Rafa.
This year he’s had a lot of problems with his consistency. Rafa’s biggest issue is because there’s so many movements going on in his groundstrokes, and he swings so fast at the ball, if something is slightly off, then it goes very off.
I’ll be very surprised to see him come back and have a year where you win two grand slams but he could win one and be right up there in the others.
He’s going to have to really build on the confidence he’s getting at the moment. I don’t think it’s make or break but he’s getting towards the end of his career and he’s put his body through everything so he hasn’t got many years left, but neither is Andy Murray, or Novak Djokovic, or Roger Federer.
Federer is a different beast altogether, I don’t regard him as normal by any means, but I think Rafa’s body and probably Andy’s as well won’t last as long as Federer. So they’ve got a couple of good years left in them.
Rafa’s form is the most talked about conversation in most locker rooms. Every player has a different opinion on what’s going on with his game.
I’ve looked at it from a completely different way – some say ‘it’s his confidence, it’s this and that’… I don’t see that, I see it as a technical issue. He’s got such a complex swing that is slightly off. He’s got to develop consistency and his way of developing consistency is by hitting a lot of balls and he feels that’s the way he can do it.
Whether his team have picked up the thing that I’ve picked up in his game, I don’t know, I’m not sure. I’ll have to have a closer look to see what he’s doing now. He’s got this whole thing he does in his game that nobody else can do. If you have a junior that does that you’ll tell him ‘you’ve got to completely fix that, that’s bad’. But in Rafa it works. That’s my opinion.
I was on the seniors tour the other day and you’ve got six different opinions on what Rafa needed to do, all from great people. To me I was really clear on what was going on. The other guys were all about it’s confidence, he’s got to do this, he’s got to do that, he’s got to hit the ball deeper, he’s got to be more consistent on his groundstrokes, he’s got to stop mis-hitting the ball, but how? That’s the question. How?
If they can’t work that out I think his team will need to look elsewhere. I would say, there’s a lot of good Spanish coaches out there, and I think it would be very arrogant for uncle Toni to think that he knows everything. He’s very open-minded, I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t at least listening to what some coaches had to say.
When things don’t go right, you have to look outside and make up your own mind. Is it necessary to bring somebody in? I don’t know if he needs to bring somebody in but he probably needs to have a listen to some people’s opinions.
Would I be willing to help him? Yes, I know what’s wrong. But nobody has asked me. I’m a real stickler with technique and there’s not many players’ coaches out there who can break it down. I’ve broken it down and I know what he does.
The ATP World Tour Finals will be staying at the O2 in London through 2018 and I’ve seen Rafa’s comments about it being unfair to him, considering indoor hard court is not his favourite surface.
I think the Finals need to be a big event first of all. I’ve always believed that the event should move around the world and give everybody a chance to have a look at it. It could come here to the Middle East. I don’t see any reason why that shouldn’t happen. But it’s such a massive success in London, so if it ain’t broke, why fix it? But I think Rafa’s right, I think it is a little unfair just to have it indoors. It’s clearly his weakest surface. Even if it was on outdoor hard court it would probably be better for him than the indoor surface they have, it just doesn’t suit his style.
Pat Cash is an ambassador for the Mubadala World Tennis Championship and was speaking at the event’s launch on Saturday at Yas Mall.
This column was conducted as an interview and Cash was responding to questions directed to him.
Petra Kvitova came back from a set down to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and hand holders the Czech Republic a 1-0 lead over Russia in the Fed Cup final in Prague on Saturday.
Kvitova, the world number six and the Czech number one, beat 28th-ranked Pavlyuchenkova on the hardcourt of Prague’s O2 Arena 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 in an hour and 44 minutes.
In Saturday’s second rubber, 11th-ranked Karolina Pliskova will face world number four Maria Sharapova in their first-ever encounter as the Czechs seek their fourth title in five years.
Following a minute’s silence for the victims of Friday’s Paris terror attacks, Kvitova got off to a stumbling start, piling up unforced errors and losing her serve to love in game three.
With Kvitova able to place only four in 10 first serves in the court, Pavlyuchenkova broke again two games later and went on to take the first set in just 34 minutes.
“She came and she played well, I didn’t really feel that she was nervous but I was nervous,” Kvitova said.
“When I stepped onto the court, I was very nervous and I was so tired, my hands didn’t fly (as) I wanted, my legs were very heavy and I couldn’t really move well.”
But the first-set flop was a perfect wake-up call for the 25-year-old Czech who converted her sixth break point in game two of the second set and powered past her helpless rival for a 6-1 win.
“I was trying to hold my serve in the second set and then I had an opportunity to break her,” said Kvitova.
“I think that game was key for the second set and maybe for the match.”
— Petra Kvitova (@Petra_Kvitova) November 14, 2015
Kvitova, the 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon champion, retained her pace in the decider, sweeping the 24-year-old Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 again.
The Czech team lead their head-to-head record with four-time Fed Cup champions Russia 3-2 — including three ties between former Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. In the most recent encounter, the Czechs won the 2011 final in Moscow.
The Czechs have won the trophy eight times, including five victories as Czechoslovakia which went on to split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.
Teams from Czech Republic and Russia look ahead to this weekend's World Group Fed Cup final in Prague.