Patrick Mouratoglou: 'Rafael Nadal struggles on an indoor court because of..'

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Patrick Mouratoglou: 'Rafael Nadal struggles on an indoor court because of..'

Out of Rafael Nadal's 86 ATP titles, only two have come on an indoor court, one on clay. The only indoor hard crown in Nadal's collection comes from Madrid 2005 and that epic victory over Ivan Ljubicic in the title match.

In the following 15 years, Nadal would compete for the trophy at the ATP Finals, Paris and Basel, losing all those encounters and always struggling with a roof above his head. The Spaniard will try to change that in London next week, entering his tenth ATP Finals event and kicking off the action against Andrey Rublev on Sunday night.

Patrick Mouratoglou believes Nadal is a much better indoor player than before, although it is still not enough to beat the best players on this surface. The French coach explained that Nadal's main struggle on an indoor hard court comes from the low bounce that prevents him from creating that lethal spin and keep the points on his racquet.

In the last couple of years, Nadal has been more aggressive, winning more free points from his initial shot and attacking early to gain control in the rallies. Still, he is yet to lift another indoor hard title, losing in the semi-final of the Paris Masters to Alexander Zverev before heading to London.

Like at the last year's ATP Finals, Zverev proved to be too strong for Rafa, scoring a 6-4, 7-5 victory to march into the title match. The return was a massive problem for Rafa that week, and Alexander took full advantage of that, hitting a service winner in 30% of the initial shot points and getting broken only once.

Alexander stole Nadal's serve thrice, controlling the scoreboard and sailing into the final. The German fired 37 winners and 18 unforced errors, delivering 20 direct points more than the Spaniard and staying focused in the second set's closing stages to seal the deal.

Alexander forged the advantage with a break at 1-1 in the opener, confirming it with a service winner for 3-1 after 14 minutes.

Rafael Nadal has won only one indoor hard title in a career, 15 years ago in Madrid.

Nadal landed a backhand down the line winner at 2-4 to stay in touch before Zverev claimed the set with a drop shot winner at 5-4.

Like in the opener, Rafa got broken at 1-1 in set number two following a weak volley and wasted two break opportunities at 2-3 after the German's two winners. Serving at 2-4, Nadal fended off four break points to stay within one break deficit, increasing his chances after the first and only break in game eight.

Rafa held at love for the first time to forge the advantage, sending the pressure to the other side of the court but achieving nothing while returning at 5-4. Alexander landed an ace to grab that game and earned a break chance in the next one after a lucky net cord winner.

Nadal gave serve away when his backhand landed wide before Zverev held at 15 to move over the top and advance into the third straight ATP final. "What makes Rafa so different and so challenging to beat on other surfaces? He doesn't have that advantage on an indoor hard court because the bounce is low; it's even much lower than on an outdoor hard court.

There is a reason for that low bounce. The surface is named hard court, but it's not the same on an indoor and outdoor court. In general, the indoor surface is wood with a kind of carpet over it, which is also a synthetic resin.

There is a space between the two, and because of it, the bounce is much lower. He is an outstanding competitor now on an indoor hard surface, but some guys are still better than him," Patrick Mouratoglou said.