Does Rafael Nadal Hit With Too Much Topspin?

Chadley UekmanCorrespondent IFebruary 6, 2010

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 26:  Rafael Nadal of Spain plays a forehand in his quarterfinal match against Andy Murray of Great Britain during day nine of the 2010 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 26, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The answer to this is yes and no.

Pete Sampras: 1,800 rpm
Andre Agassi: 1,800 rpm
Roger Federer: 2,500 rpm
Rafael Nadal: 3,200 rpm - peaked at 5000 rpm

Rafael Nadal hits the heaviest topspin forehand in the game.  This shot works to his advantage when he is full of confidence and is a detriment when confidence is lost.

Nadal Reverse Forehand Advantages 

  • heavy spin brings ball down into court
  • keeps ball out of opponent's strike zone when hit deep
  • higher net clearance that reduces errors
  • heavy topspin = heavy ball for opponent
  • gives Nadal time for recovery
  • good rally ball

Nadal Reverse Forehand Disadvantages 

  • When left short can be attacked
  • fewer winners are hit
  • strain on body due to its physical nature
  • gives opponents time to cover court 

A healthy, confident Nadal is the most dominant and unbeatable player on tour.  He won three out of four majors in a span of less than year against the greatest player of all time and was ranked #1 in the world. 

When Nadal loses his confidence, he loses the depth on his forehand wing.  This pattern of play has resulted in uncharacteristic losses as of late, and has dropped his ranking to #4 in the world.

Nadal needs to use this next month to regain his confidence and find the form from the 2008 Wimbledon and 2009 Australian Open. 

Two things stand out to me when watching the matches during this period.  He hit his two-handed backhand hard and flat making it a dangerous weapon. On the forehand side, he put away short replies by stepping into the ball and hitting more of a topspin drive finishing his stroke around his body as opposed to over the head.

His forehand is one of the best shots in the world, and it will benefit him to find the confidence in his topspin drive that spins less and drives more to put away his opponent during a rally.

The day we start seeing that, is the day we will start seeing the rise of Rafa.


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