Nadal: Return is key to beating Djokovic


Originally published on: 23/04/12 00:00

Rafael Nadal insists he cannot make major changes to his game, but the Spaniard believes he has discovered one of the keys to beating Novak Djokovic. After seven successive defeats to the world No.1, Nadal registered his first victory over him for 17 months with his 6-3, 6-1 victory in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 tournament.

Nadal says he learned from his marathon match against Djokovic in the Australian Open final, when he went within six points of beating the Serb, that he has to attack more if he is to have any chance of beating him.

“The only way to win is to play more aggressively, I know that,” Nadal said. “At the end, you cannot change your game a lot. I don't have that talent to change my game a lot. I have to change a few things, like I did in Australia, like playing more aggressively, trying to go for the point. I was very happy after my match with the way that I played there.”

Being more aggressive on his return of serve is proving particularly beneficial for Nadal against Djokovic. In Monte Carlo he won more than half the points on Djokovic’s serve, which he broke five times.

“I hit some very good backhand returns, very long ones,” Nadal said. “After that, against his forehand I tried not to open the court a lot. When you open the court against most players you are in a good situation, but not against him because he's able to open you up more with the next shot. So I try to hit long, but more to the middle. Then I try to control the point with my forehand. I know that he didn't serve perfectly, but when I was able to return the ball, my returns were very good almost every time.”


Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.