12.07.2020 - 02:56 Uhr
atptour.com
When the lights go out at the All England Club and fans stream out of the gates in awe of a day’s play on the pristine lawns, it is likely that Rafael Nadal will be the subject of some of their discussions.With two titles (2008, 2010) and three runner-up appearances (2006-07, 2011), the Spaniard has left an indelible mark on the grass of Wimbledon, characterised by his hunger for victory and a huge capacity to adapt. It's clear that his grass-court magic isn’t just natural instinct, but rather the fruit of a life of hard work.Few are more familiar with the work of the Mallorcan than Francis Roig, a permanent member of his coaching staff since 2005. The Mallorcan spoke to ATPTour.com about Nadal adapting his game to grass, which has been an essential component in establishing his legacy.“The first time I saw Rafa play on grass was around 2002 or 2003,” Roig recalled. “At the time, I was still coaching Feliciano Lopez and I hadn’t started working with Nadal. Rafa came to play in the juniors. He didn’t have anyone to rally with, so I played with him that day.”The stories of Wimbledon that had been shared by his Uncle Toni were etched into Nadal’s mind and his determination to master the surface was evident in every shot. Inside the walls of the All England Club, steeped in history, was a wide-eyed young man who would do anything to progress.“From the first moment, I could see that he was very capable of adapting to grass,” Roig said. “A few years had to go by before he would earn confidence and the knack for playing on it. But Rafa has a quality, among many, that I think is incredible and makes him different to the rest. He knows how to overcome adversity like no other.“Little by little, he started to learn how to play on grass. I think that this is one of the things that sets Rafa apart, that he always finds solutions. These situations are where he has demonstrated that. People who thought he wouldn’t be able to play well on grass have seen that he did.”As time has gone by, the Spaniard has become a revered player in London. With a 53-12 record at Wimbledon, Nadal has enjoyed a long history of success at the season’s third Grand Slam. From his first final just a few weeks after turning 20, to his assault on the title last year at age 34, he has consistently found a way to contend for the trophy.“There was a turning point on grass for Rafa. At first, he played with huge intensity that intimidated his opponents. He played at a very fast rhythm and was able to move much better than now, as he was much younger,” Roig said. “Later, he showed such a huge evolution in his game that, to me, he practically played better on grass than on hard courts. I think he produces better tennis. He likes playing on grass when he has time to adapt, although it’s true that the grass and current balls are maybe slower than before.”Nadal’s most recent showings at Wimbledon will make him one of the favourites to win at next year’s event. Few have doubted his ability to contend for another trophy in London and he’s provided plenty of evidence that he has more outstanding grass-court tennis to give.“He has played stunning tennis in the past three editions. In 2017, he lost in the fourth round to Gilles Muller in a match that could have gone either way. He was playing well enough to do something big that year at Wimbledon. He came close in the past two years,” Roig reflected. “You have to expect anything from Rafa. It wasn’t his favourite surface, but he adapted by searching for solutions and he is great at that. He competes every day. You can never write him off in a match or for things in his career that seem difficult. You always have to expect that he’s capable of the best.”History can attest to that. Nadal reached the Wimbledon final on five consecutive occasions between 2006-2011 (he withdrew from the 2009 event due to knee tendonitis), an achievement that only three other men (Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Roger Federer) have accomplished in the Open Era.“Playing five consecutive finals at Wimbledon is quite a feat,” Roig said. “It’s true that a few years have gone by where he didn’t play well and injuries didn’t help him. In addition, he has always had the handicap of arriving on the grass somewhat depleted after Roland Garros. It takes a very big toll and you have to take that into account.“But it’s not just his five finals. It’s also the semi-finals he has recently played. I would rate him very highly among Wimbledon players. It goes without saying that you’d have to place him among the best players in history on any surface.”
  

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04.08.2021 - 21:34 Uhr
atptour.com

Alexander Bublik is one of the most entertaining players on the ATP Tour, from his shotmaking ability to his underarm serves. Although fans might remember the Kazakhstani’s trickery most, he has more aces than anyone so far with 576 entering this week’s Citi Open.“It’s a cool stat. Leading in aces after almost eight months is great,” Bublik said. “It means I can serve. It means I can hit dingers.”Before the ninth seed begins his run in Washington, ATPTour.com caught up with Bublik about what his life is like on Tour, his favourite vacation spots, and why he tries to focus on anything but tennis once off the court.What are two essential non-tennis items you always pack for trips?It’s my wedding ring and my watch. I buy and sell. I bought my first [watch] in 2017. Since then I’ve had many. I’m a big watch enthusiast. I love watches, I love buying them and selling them. I love all these kinds of things. At the moment I have maybe four or five watches, but I’ve had many more. Do you enjoy travelling the world or consider it just something that needs to be done to be a pro tennis player? If you do enjoy it, what do you enjoy about travelling?I don’t like travelling at all to be honest with you. I’m not a big fan of packing, flying and changing time zones, but I treat it like a part of work. I don’t like it. I was happy to stay home for six months. I was very happy, it was really good for me. I would stay another six months at home if that would be necessary. For me travelling is just a part of my job to make a living.How do you try to overcome jetlag and acclimate to the local time zone?It’s not tough for me. I do well for the time zones, but I just don’t like travelling. I would be happy to travel from my home to the Alps and back with the car, five or six hours. I’m not a guy who would go to the Maldives, a 15-hour-trip to lay under the sun for 15 days.In that case, where is your favourite vacation destination?The French Alps, Swiss Alps, ski resorts. Something that is not mainstream and you don’t see hundreds of tennis players and athletes there. Something that is a bit interesting to walk around, see nature.I go to the mountains, I enjoy nature. Of course there is a great hotel, but [I like] walking around. I can’t ski or snowboard unfortunately, but I love nature. It’s great to recharge, put away your phone. I think for me the best places are these cold resorts with skiing or in the Swiss Alps.Watch Bublik Tour The Newport Grounds:What is your favourite tournament city to visit and why?The ATP hosts the tournaments in very good locations, so usually it’s always in good cities. There are some cities I don’t like [because of] the weather or conditions or other things, but overall 95 per cent of tournaments held by the ATP are held in great spots. We have great hotels [too].As a tennis player, maintaining your body is of the utmost importance, so how do you take care of it during long trips?Sleep well, and a couple of glasses of wine never hurt. I try not to stick to the tennis player thing, always taking care of yourself, taking care of your body, taking care of your tennis. When you travel, you should try to be a normal person and do whatever a normal person would do on a 14-hour flight.Are there any routines or activities you do to create a sense of ‘home on the road’ to feel more comfortable?I travel with my wife, my coach — who is my good friend — and a fitness trainer and we try not to talk about tennis. We try not to think about tennis at all when we are outside the tennis courts. Just live a normal life. I don’t treat myself as a tennis player when I am outside. I probably should in order to perform better as they say. But for me, the most important thing is to feel happy and feel comfortable on the Tour. I try to put aside the tennis life when I am away from the tennis courts.

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