'Rafael Nadal is very loose on his grip', says top coach

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'Rafael Nadal is very loose on his grip', says top coach

Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in the closing stages of 2019 to collect his fifth world no. 1 at the end of the year. Nadal wrapped up the season with the Davis Cup Finals crown and kicked off the 2020 campaign in another team competition.

Rafa led Spain to the inaugural ATP Cup final, losing 2-1 to Serbia and missing out on the two notable team titles. Shifting focus from him to the Australian Open, Nadal advanced to the fourth round following a convincing 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory over compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta in one hour and 38 minutes.

Struggling a bit against Federico Delbonis in the previous round, Nadal played much better in this one at a sunny Rod Laver Arena, controlling the pace from start to finish and advancing to the Round of 16. The 2009 champion dropped just ten points on serve, never facing a break point and mounting the pressure on the other side of the net after scoring 42 winners and just seven unforced errors.

As expected, Carreno Busta couldn't follow those numbers, struggling with second serve in a big way and getting broken five times out of the ten chances Rafa was given, despite some comfortable holdings in sets two and three.

Satisfied with his performance, Nadal described the victory as the best of the tournament so far. The Spaniard was happy with his serve and forehand and expected more against Nick Kyrgios or Karen Khachanov in the next round.

"Today I played the best match of the tournament so far. That's a very positive thing, being able to improve a little every day. I'm super happy, but I'm also sorry for Pablo, he's a good friend, and I wish him all the best for the rest of the season."

Rafa has won the French Open 14 times

Renowned coach Patrick Mouratoglou recently explained the science behind Rafael Nadal's lethal topspin forehand. "He started with very strong claycourt trends, but throughout the years he has technically worked a lot on it to make it adaptable to every surface," Mouratoglou said.

"He starts his preparation in a traditional way by using his non-dominant arm to push his racquet back, head of his racquet points at the sky. The whip effect - Rafa is very loose on his grip. The delay of his racquet head creates an incredible acceleration, the racquet head comes back at the level of the hand during the impact.

His arm goes from being bent to being totally extended. His contact point is also way in front, even further than his right foot."