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"He doesn't think he's Rafael Nadal" - Francisco Roig on Nadal's lack of ego while discussing player issues

French Open Winner Rafael Nadal
French Open Winner Rafael Nadal
ANALYST
Modified 25 Oct 2020, 20:02 IST
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Francisco Roig has been in Rafael Nadal’s coaching team for 15 years now. Together with Toni Nadal and Carlos Moya, Roig has helped Rafael Nadal win a record-equaling 20 Grand Slams over an incredibly trophy-laden career.

Needless to say, not many in the world know Rafael Nadal the player as well as Francisco Roig.

In a recent interview with La Vanguardia, Nadal’s alternate coach spoke at length about his pupil. The 52-year-old touched upon several topics concerning the World No. 2, amongst which was Rafael Nadal's eagerness to help others out as well as his desire to improve his game.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

Despite winning 13 titles on the claycourts of Paris, Rafael Nadal is still as grounded as he was when he first picked up a racquet. Many in the tennis fraternity believe the Mallorcan is possibly the most down-to-earth individual on the ATP tour, and Roig reinforced that with his comments.

The 52-year-old also touched upon Rafael Nadal's unwillingness to join the Novak Djokovic led PTPA. Roig firmly dismissed the notion that Nadal was trying to protect his own interests, and instead asserted that the 20-time Slam champion was open to any kind of discussion.

“In the circuit you hear things,” Roig said. “There are players with more rankings that are believed to have privileges. Rafa is open to dialogue, he listens, he is spontaneous. He doesn't think he's Rafael Nadal.”
Rafael Nadal in a cheerful mood
Rafael Nadal in a cheerful mood

Francisco Roig went on to say that Rafael Nadal always sees himself at the same level as others. The idea of being given preferential treatment because of his achievements in tennis has never entered Nadal's head, and Roig gives a lot of the credit for that to Toni Nadal’s teachings.

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“He does not enter into believing himself to be more important, he does not see himself with more rights than any other person,” Roig continued. “Obviously, he has certain social privileges. But their treatment is the same from day one. I guess his uncle has something to do with it.”

Rafael Nadal has been getting more out of his serve the last 3 years: Francisco Roig

Rafael Nadal preparing to serve
Rafael Nadal preparing to serve

Rafael Nadal's serve was a bit of a weakness in the early part of his career. But over the last three years or so the quality of Nadal’s serve has improved considerably, to the point that he now uses it as a get-out-of-jail card when he is under pressure.

Francisco Roig explained how they worked together to fix the Mallorcan’s serve, helping him get more free points on it.

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“Rafa has been getting more out of the service for three years,” Roig said. "This way you add free points. It was not so much a problem of speed, as of the bounce, especially in the second serve: when the ball bounced, it did not skid. We fixed that and now he identifies the serve as a weapon."
Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

At 34 years of age, Rafael Nadal is far from the physical specimen that he once was. But he is still ranked No. 2 in the world and winning one or more Slams every year, which according to Roig is because of the tactical changes he has made to his game with help from his team.

 “We do not do it (improve serve) for that, but to remain competitive,” Roig explained. “Although it is true that he is the age he is, and does not move like his 20 years. He must play more left-handed, open the court with the backhand, go to the net.”
Published 25 Oct 2020, 19:47 IST
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