Having burst back onto the 2013 scene after a season plagued with injuries, Rafael Nadal (Player Info) has drawn compliments from rival Novak Djokovic (Player Info) as well as remaining undefeated at heard courts.
The Spaniard, who has looked almost invincible at this year’s US Open, has impressed his Serbian rival despite not serving “as hard as he did probably when he won the US Open in 2010.” When asked at the Western & Southern if he had noticed any changes in Rafa’s game, Djokovic replied that he has “become more aggressive…. Especially on the return in Montreal he was coming closer to the line and he was picking up the ball quite fast.”
“Now he’s using the serve very efficiently” Djokovic went on to explain, “he’s going for precision. He knows that he can back it up. He has one of the best second shots in the game. That’s why he doesn’t feel as much maybe pressure and that’s why he’s more relaxed and he can have a lot of variety.”
Although Djokovic has managed to defeat Nadal for seven straight matches during their rivalry, Nadal has triumphed over the World Number 1 during five of their last six matches, which included the popular game at the Rogers Cup Montreal.
Rafa is now ahead of Djokovic in terms of season points and matches (currently 21-15), a fact that the top player is all too aware of – “ 2011, I was winning most of them; now he’s winning….it’s a course of life… You can’t always be winning the matches. You can’t always be the one that is going to prevail in the important moments. It’s mental. It’s a matter of confidence also. Sometimes you manage to go for the shot that usually you wouldn’t and sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t for you. I guess that makes a difference.”
With Djokovic feeling Rafa’s new found aggression during return serves on court, it’s perhaps no surprise that he has boosted his coaching team with the renowned Fibak ahead of what is looking to be an exciting US Open final between the two rivals.