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Rafael Nadal picks Roger Federer's forehand & Novak Djokovic's backhand for "ideal player"

Rafael Nadal savors the Musketeers Cup after winning the 2019 French Open.
Rafael Nadal savors the Musketeers Cup after winning the 2019 French Open.
Modified 26 May 2020, 18:01 IST

Although we haven't had any tennis for a while now, top players like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have kept themselves busy. With one-on-one Instagram interactions, new hobbies, posting quirky and fun stuff on social media and last but not the least raising funds to help people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the stars have had their hands full with off-court activities.

Although he only recently resumed training, Rafael Nadal took some time off to interact with former World Number 4 and two-time Roland Garos semi-finalist from Argentina - José Luis Clerc. The 61-year-old Luis Clerc is now a tennis commentator for ESPN Argentina.

Rafael Nadal spoke on a variety of topics - ranging from his own sources of motivation to the keys behind the Big 3's success. One of the more fun segments was when he was asked to create the 'ideal tennis player'; Nadal came up with some surprising picks for that.

Rafael Nadal mentions Roger Federer while dissecting the perfect combination in a tennis player

Roger Federer
Roger Federer's forehand

Pressed by José Luis Clerc to share his views of an "ideal tennis player" with real-life examples, Rafael Nadal, who was initially reticent, described that a perfect tennis player would need to have the characteristics of multiple top players.

Nadal went with a few obvious choices, picking Ivo Karlović's serve to start with. The tall Croat is widely considered to be one of the best servers ever, and Nadal believes having a weapon like that would be hugely beneficial.

For the forehand, Rafael Nadal picked his arch-rival and good friend Roger Federer. The Swiss' characteristic technique, that has often been described as a 'liquid whip', has caused plenty of damage on the tour over the last two decades.

There was no surprise in the next category, as the Spaniard chose Novak Djokovic's backhand for the perfect player. Djokovic's backhand has ironically caused Nadal himself a lot of headaches over the years, and many have called it the best in history.

The Novak Djokovic backhand
The Novak Djokovic backhand

The next few categories threw up some surprises. Nadal opted for Grigor Dimitrov's slice as his off-pace backhand of choice, ignoring the more highly regarded backhand slices of Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

Rafael Nadal also went with an unusual name for the drop shot, picking doubles specialist Marc López. But when you consider that Lopez has been Nadal's long-time doubles partner - the two even won the Olympics gold medal at Rio 2016 - you can understand the sentiment behind the choice.

Finally, Rafael Nadal picked Roger Federer or Radek Štěpánek for the volley. Both Federer and Stepanek have been known to cover the net masterfully, and not many would disagree with Nadal's choice here.

Where would Rafael Nadal's own forehand figure in the discussion?

The Rafael Nadal forehand is a force of nature
The Rafael Nadal forehand is a force of nature

While Rafael Nadal picked Roger Federer's forehand in his list of choices, there's an argument to be made for his own forehand to be included in the discussion. Nadal's forehand has caused nightmares to a slew of players over the years, especially on clay.

In fact, Roger Federer's inability to handle Nadal's topspin forehand at Roland Garros is widely considered to be the main reason why the Swiss never managed to beat the southpaw on clay.

Published 26 May 2020, 18:01 IST
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