Reilly Opelka cites Rafael Nadal's example to endorse varied conditions and court speeds

Reilly Opelka praised Rafael Nadal
Reilly Opelka praised Rafael Nadal's ability to evolve

Rafael Nadal's ability to adapt to different conditions should be looked at, suggests Reilly Opelka amidst the growing debate of court speed recently.

After Daniil Medvedev defeated Alexander Zverev in the fourth round of the 2023 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, he criticized the slow courts, calling them a "disgrace."

The Russian player's views on the speed of the court were upheld by Iga Swiatek, Elena Rybakina, and Aryna Sabalenka. However, Cameron Norrie stated that he didn't mind the conditions.

Opelka has been away from action since August 2022 due to a hip and wrist injury. Speaking on The Craig Shapiro Tennis Podcast, the 25-year-old American recalled the 2021 Laver Cup in Boston, which he said was the slowest court he had played on.

"Guys are complaining about it a lot more now. I haven't been around in the last eight months but I thought it was getting out of control," Opelka said. "The slowest court I've ever played on in my life, Indian Wells is up there, but Laver Cup [2021], I remember in Boston."
"It was hands down, without a doubt the craziest conditions I've ever played in. But a lot of the indoor tournaments have gone super slow. And I think that's how the game evolves," he said.

Referring to Nadal's ever-evolving prowess, Opelka remarked that the Spaniard always adjusted his game to the circumstances and found a way to win. The American added that different conditions were vital for tennis to evolve.

"You put on Rafa's mind. Rafa's going to win no matter what, he's going to find a way to win. He doesn't like to lose. You increase court speed, Rafa's going to learn how to serve better, he's going to work on his first ball, might change his forehand grip a little bit to flatten it out if you speed up the court. That's exactly how tennis evolves as a whole, by having different scenarios and different conditions," he added.

It's hard to retire while winning: Toni Nadal on Rafael Nadal

2017 French Open
2017 French Open

Speaking to Marca, Rafael Nadal's uncle and former coach Toni weighed in on his nephew's remaining career, saying that it would be difficult for the former World No. 1 to hang up his racquet while he can still be competitive.

"In Madrid or at Roland Garros,” Toni said. “The time will come and he will decide. When you lift a trophy, you convince yourself that you still have something to give. It's hard to retire winning. I think Sampras did it. I haven't talked about that with Rafa. I don't know how much it fits him. If he fully recovers, let him keep playing and we'll see."

The 22-time Grand Slam champion is recovering from a hip injury that he picked up at the 2023 Australian Open and is set to return at the upcoming Monte Carlo Masters.

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here

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Edited by Samya Majumdar
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