After a disappointing early exit at the 2016 Australian Open, Rafael Nadal’s uncle and trainer, Toni Nadal believes it’s time for the Spanish pro to change his game to have a better performance for the rest of his career.
“I understand that in sport results come first and, if you have to make a change, you have to do it. To lose so early in Australia is one of the biggest disappointments we have had because, in the last four months, we had been playing well,” Toni Nadal shared in an interview with a Spanish radio station via Sky Sports.
“I hope it is only a blip and we move forward.”
Nadal had been playing well in the latter part of the 2015 ATP season. Back in July, Nadal, who was once considered part of tennis’ elite that include the likes of rivals Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, dropped in the ATP rankings to World No. 10 before climbing back to World No. 5 to end the year.
The 29-year-old from Manacor, Spain got eliminated in the first round of the 2016 Australian Open by compatriot Fernando Verdasco, who won a five-setter, 6-7 (6) 6-4 6-3 6-7 (4) 2-6. Nadal appeared on his way to the second round after leading the match, 2 sets to 1 but completely collapsed in the final two sets.
This is the second time in the last four years that Nadal has bombed out very early in a Grand Slam tournament. The Spaniard was also eliminated in the first round of 2013 Wimbledon Championships losing to then World No. 135 player Steve Darcis in straight sets.
In the last two years, Nadal won the 2014 French Open and made the final of the 2014 Australian Open but got eliminated early in the six other Grand Slam tournaments.
Is Nadal already past his prime? Should Nadal made changes to his game and remain competitive against the rising stars in tennis and keep up with the elite players in Federer, Murray and Djokovic?
Photo courtesy: rafaelnadalfans.com