Rafael Nadal is back in the place that best completed him: a final of a Grand Slam tournament. He did it at the Australian Open, losing the incredible and epic final against his eternal rival, Roger Federer.
As it happened more than once for Roger, the detractors of Rafa had also said that the best days of the Mallorcan's tennis were finished, after the last two horrible years. Especially, many were critical of the choices that Rafa and his coach, his uncle Toni made, because they did'nt make changes to the Spaniard's style of play, of adapting his body to new tactics, in order to push him closer to his opponents, as Federer did after 2013, when he proposed a very offensive tennis.
In the biennium of 2015-2016, Rafa played the worst seasons of his career, highlighting how essential a change of tactics was for him, as his physique seemed to no longer support his style of play.
After these premises, who could think that Rafa could reach a Slam final? Perhaps even him, who played a crazy Australian Open, lost only by the magic backhand of Federer, on the other side of the court, in the final. Especially, the performances of Nadal were convincing both by the physical point of view, but also from the mental one, which saw him concentrate on every point like the old days.
Yet, Rafa and his team have decided, more or less, to continue with the usual tactical trends, which saw some well-adapted solution for the fast conditions of the Australian surfaces, in Melbourne. We have to say that, according to the latest statements of Toni Nadal, who said that from 2018, he wouldn't be touring with Rafa, something could change, but now we have to focus on what has been and what will be in this season.
In his team, surely the effect of Carlos Moya will be more than positive, but to see the real effects of this collaboration, we will have to wait for the season on clay, which certainly will see him defend the title in Monte Carlo and in which Rafa will certainly start as favorite.
Despite the skeptics, Rafa has shown that his commitment, his professionalism, and his strength of will were decisive to regaining confidence and his perseverance in training paid off with a Slam final that was least unexpected.
However, having said so, some small tactical adjustment signal was seen, at least in the Australian Open semi-final against Grigor Dimitrov. Was the old fox, finally up to new tricks?