Legendary tennis coach Jose Higueras reveals he was absolutely stunned with the level of intensity when he was a 14-year-old Rafael Nadal practicing. Higueras knows how to recognize a great talent, having worked in the past with the likes of Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Carlos Moya.
Nadal has always been known as one of the biggest competitors on the Tour. According to Higueras, that's not a coincidence since Nadal was ultra competitive during his junior days as well. "The first time I saw Rafa was in Mallorca when he was 14 years old, and the level of intensity on every single point was unbelievable," Higueras said on latest episode of the Holding Court with Patrick McEnroe podcast, per Sportskeeda.
"He's such a competitior. He is so thirsty [to keep on improving]. It makes me so happy to see him now, he's becoming a better player every time I see him play. It is truly unbelievable."
Higueras on Nadal's mental strength
Throughout his career, Nadal has many times found a way out of an extremely difficult situation.
Nadal was on the brink of suffering a straight-set defeat to Daniil Medvedev in this year's Australian Open final but he pulled off a stunning comeback to win a record 21st Grand Slam title. Medvedev was up by two sets, had a 3-2 lead in the third set and had three consecutive break points in the sixth game before Nadal stormed back to win in five sets.
"When I think of Rafa, I think of [Bjorn] Borg. I think they are the two most mentally similar guys on the ATP Tour I have seen in my career," Higueras said. "I thought Borg was a little stronger mentally, but I have [now] changed my mind on that, to be honest."
Nadal returned to Spain following his Australian Open victory as he is expected to return to action next week in Acapulco.