Rafael Nadal is arguably the best player of all time on clay, having racked up 13 titles at Roland Garros. The former world number 1 was forced to miss the first rounds on red due to a fractured rib, which he sustained during the semifinal of the Indian Wells Masters 1000 against Carlos Alcaraz.
The Spanish champion has left everyone speechless at the start of the season, considering that he had just returned from a long stop due to a foot injury. After clinching the Melbourne ATP 250, the Majorcan blew the bank at the Australian Open by putting his 21st Major on the showcase.
In addition to having overtaken Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the all-time rankings, Rafa has become the fourth man in history to have won all Grand Slams at least twice (along with Djokovic, Rod Laver and Roy Emerson).
Guest in the latest edition of the 'ATP Tennis Radio' podcast, Craig Boynton - Hubert Hurkacz's coach - illustrated the keys to Nadal's dominance over the crushed brick.
Nadal had one of the best starts to the year in 2022
"You've got to be able to transition from defense to offense and and offense to defense is the short answer.
When you watch Rafael Nadal, he played way behind the baseline, and then he will hit a ball and quickly establish the middle of the court with the forehand to get on the offense. Don't watch the ball, watch the court position of each player," the coach said.
Craig Boynton also spoke about how Rafael Nadal's fitness will play a role in how the Spaniard approaches points during the clay season. "Basically we will see how he is with his health and where he is, but normally, if you look at the prototypical clay courter back him in his day, I mean, if it was there, he would take it.
If it is not there, he would just hit the forehand heavy to get the ball to the strike zone and now his opponent has to move back, let the ball drop so he is giving up space and time and then if he drops it short, Rafa or good clay courters will then be happy to take that time and space and get their opponent on the defense or push him back and hit the drop shot."
Rafael Nadal had one of the best starts to the year in 2022, winning three titles including a Grand Slam title. Returning from an injury that had him benched for over six months, along with a bout of covid, he won his first title at the Melbourne Summer Set.
He continued his winning streak through the Australian Open, and Mexican Open and reached the finals at the Indian Wells Masters as well.