Ex-American star tells absolutely great young Rafael Nadal Wimbledon story

It took Nadal time to learn how to play on grass.

by Dzevad Mesic
Ex-American star tells absolutely great young Rafael Nadal Wimbledon story
© Getty Images Sport - Ian Walton

Jill Craybas has told a great Rafael Nadal story as the former American tennis star claims she once saw the Spaniard picking up a chair to watch Roger Federer's full Wimbledon practice so he could observe and learn from the Swiss' grass game. 

After winning the 2005 French Open, it didn't take long before Nadal started winning on hard courts as well. But on grass, it was pretty clear that Nadal still had a lot to learn. 

"A story that impressed me about Nadal is, you know, he understood that he was the best on the clay. And he understood he had to make some adjustments to the other surfaces, which he did phenomenally well. But I remember one year at Wimbledon, he hadn't won a Wimbledon title, he knew it wasn't his best surface. And I just remember being at the practice courts at Aorangi and I was still playing at the time. And he just picked up a chair, sat right in front of the practice court watching Federer. And just sat there watching Federer's practice, trying to learn how to play on the surface of the grass surface to get better," Craybas said on the ATP Tennis Radio Podcast.

Craybas recounts Nadal learning from Federer's grass game 

In 2008, Nadal won his first grass title at the Queen's Club. After landing his first grass title, Nadal also went on to lift his maiden Wimbledon title after beating Federer in a historic 2008 final at The Championships. Today, Nadal is a two-time Wimbledon champion, having also won it all at The All England Club in 2010.

"And, you know, just having that, I mean, obviously he has that awareness and understanding, but just wanting to learn from the best. And I think that's what those three guys did so well. They all had different styles which I think pushed them to be better players. And I think they all had an understanding and awareness of that. But to be at the top of the game like Nadal and to be aware, I need to learn from Federer, one of his biggest rivals. To me, that's incredible having that mentality," Craybas said.

Rafael Nadal Wimbledon