When we talk about Rafael Nadal we are certainly talking about one of the players who will remain in the history of this sport and one of the candidates to be considered the best tennis player of all time. Also in this troubled year, conditioned by the pandemic linked to the Coronavirus emergency, Nadal made his mark by entering the history books by winning his thirteenth Roland Garros and Grand Slam number 20 title, thus reaching Roger Federer.
In this 2020 Nadal was also the fourth player of the Open era to reach 1000 victories in the ATP circuit, leaving Roland Garros with 999 successes and obtaining the 1000th victory against Feliciano Lopez in the first round of Paris Bercy.
Rafael Nadal is behind in this ranking only Jimmy Connors (1274) Roger Federer (1242) and Ivan Lendl (1068). Appearing on a podcast, former World Number 4 Robin Soderling was asked what he would tell Thiem if Thiem was to ring him up someday and ask him how to play Nadal at the French Open final.
Soderling on facing Rafael Nadal
Robin Soderling said the best way to tackle the Spaniard on clay is to fight fire with fire. “Especially on clay, you have to play aggressively. You know, now he is probably even better to take the initiative.
I think that Rafael Nadal, throughout the last few years, became more aggressive. He tries to take the ball a little bit early, put a little bit more pressure on the opponent,” Soderling said. “Back then, he was playing a little bit more defensive but he improved many things during all these years.
But I would say ten years ago, he was probably faster, he was moving better. So he could play a little bit more defensive. Now, I don’t think he is moving as well as before, but he (has) improved other things. He has improved his serve a lot, plays even more aggressively, can take the ball a little bit earlier and flatten it out, which he couldn’t do back then,” Soderling said.
The Swede added that he was impressed by how Nadal has brought subtle adjustments to his game to suit the needs of modern-day tennis. “That’s one of the things I’m really impressed with, talking about Rafa.
He managed to change and improve his game to meet the new type of tennis that is coming,” Soderling said. During an interview, Rafael Nadal was also asked why he decided to pursue tennis as a career. The Spaniard revealed that his uncle Toni started giving him lessons right from the age of three, and explained how the sport kept growing in importance for him.
“I also played soccer,” Nadal said. “Tennis, because my uncle was a coach. I started when I was three, once a week or something like that. I continued playing more and until I was 13 years old, also soccer. Then no longer, because I had to study. Like many people, there are circumstances that help you take a path, and this was mine."