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.