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Nadal credits improved serve and in-form forehand for brilliance in Oz
The world No. 2 hasn't dropped a set on his way to the final, where he'll face a similarly impressive Novak Djokovic.
Published Jan 25, 2019
Rafael Nadal says it's his serving that has allowed him to play such dominating tennis on his way to the Australian Open final, backed up by an in-form forehand.
The Spaniard changed his motion during the offseason, and is getting a few extra miles per hour on his delivery. He's also been happy with his famed topspin forehand during the tournament, and adds he began to find his backhand during a three-set semifinal victory against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
"Playing solid with my serve, playing aggressive. Probably the backhand was better today than the rest of the days," was Nadal's assessment of his performance. "That's important for me, too, because the forehand was working fantastic during the whole week, week and a half, but the backhand was improving during the tournament.
"Returning better. So in general terms of course I have to be very happy about the way that I played."
Nadal, known for his grinding baseline game at the beginning of his career, has been playing a more offensive style of tennis in recent years, including at this event. His longest match so far has been two hours and 22 minutes. But he says it's not so much a change in attitude as an improvement in his game.
"I always tried to be aggressive. I have my mentality. You can't go against the way you understand the sport. I can't play trying to hit winners every ball if I don't understand the sport that way," Nadal said. "But today I'm serving better. That's why I'm able to create more winners on the first ball."
Before Melbourne, the world No. 2 had not played an official event since the US Open, but says a good offseason allowed him to work on his new serving motion and other parts of his game.
Nadal has continued to adjust his game since adding Carlos Moya as a coach, including more variety in his serving patterns, reinforcing his forehand following a wrist injury and improving his backhand.
That, he says, has allowed him to stay at the top of the game as he gets older, helping to offset what he cannot now do as effectively.
"Today I have to adapt my game to the new time and to my age, that's all," said Nadal. "That's what I did during all my career, just try to adapt my game with the circumstances that I went through. That's the only reason why at this moment I still here competing at high level.
"I am doing a lot of things well. The results say during my career I did a lot of things very well, too."
Nadal, who next plays Novak Djokovic in a rematch of their classic 2012 final Down Under, is bidding for his second Australian Open title.
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