'Rafael Nadal is a master at stressing opponents', says expert



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'Rafael Nadal is a master at stressing opponents', says expert

Rafael Nadal will compete at the Cincinnati Masters next week, returning to action for the first time since the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Nadal arrived in Cincinnati on Thursday and on Friday he trained on the court with the young Holger Rune.

Nadal will play in Cincinnati for the first time since 2017, seeking the second title after that famous streak in 2013. The Spaniard will try to consolidate his form in Ohio ahead of the US Open, where he will seek the 23rd Major crown.

Nadal leads the ATP Race To Turin after a 35-3 record in 2022, capturing two Grand Slam titles and hoping to soon become World No. 1. He will get it if he wins in Cincinnati and Daniil Medvedev loses before the quarterfinals.

Rafa's main concern at the moment is his serve, since he suffered an abdominal injury at Wimbledon and it is difficult for him to serve correctly during training. Rafa missed the second part of 2021 due to a foot injury and this year he has returned perfectly.

He claimed three consecutive titles at the start of the season, including his first Australian Open crown in 13 years. This allowed him to be ahead of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic and gave him a boost for the coming months.

With momentum on his side, Nadal lifted the trophy in Acapulco and reached the Indian Wells final. He played it with a fractured rib and lost to Taylor Fritz in straight sets. Rafa missed Monte Carlo and Barcelona and did not play at his usual level in Madrid and Rome.

Nadal leveled up on the biggest stage and secured his 14th Roland Garros title after beating Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Casper Ruud.

Rafa Nadal will play in Cincinnati

In an interview with tennis MAGAZIN, Mischa Zverev hailed Rafael Nadal for being unpredictable, adopting surprise tactics like a serve and volley to surprise his opponent.

"The players, especially Medvedev, are preparing for long rallies. After serve and return, you play the point practically like a penalty. This is the tactic of building the point from behind. Rafa is constantly analysing the game, and he knows when it's wise to create moments of surprise.

He often does something new or unexpected when he's behind," Zverev said. "After a very long game, advantage - deuce - advantage - deuce, he suddenly throws in a serve and volley," he added. "He does it when you don't expect it, in a stressful situation.

Or he uses his stop, especially with the forehand. If Rafa was playing serve-and-volley all the time, it wouldn't work."