July 12, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Warming up for No. 14 – Rafael Nadal gets ready (pics)

ROLAND GARROS – In the last moments before the doors to Court Philippe-Chatrier were opened to the fans, Rafael Nadal was on court prepping for his quest for yet another Roland Garros title.

Here’s what it looked like.

There are a few things that strike you when the greats are prepping for great moments. The first is just how many PEOPLE they have.

With Nadal, there were coaches Francis Roig and Carlos Moya, coach Marc Lopez (who was warming him up), his physio, his PR guy, his agent and his doctor.

And those were just the faces we recognized.

The other is just how HARD they hit the ball in practice, to loosen it up. Once the match comes, with the natural tension and a different objective, there isn’t quite the same level of mph.

Nadal was CRANKING the ball. And probably 95 percent of the balls he hit were forehands.

There was the occasional opening backhand, after which he would work on positioning himself to hit forehands the rest of the way.

This is pretty much how Nadal plays most of the time. So it’s not a surprise.

But the perfectionism is off the charts. Nadal misses ONE backhand? Roig is over there mimicking the proper stroke. And Nadal himself lingers over it for 30 seconds, taking a few shadow swings.

This (and this is not a state secret) why he’s so great.

There was plenty of security on the court already.

If someone wants to come on and make a statement, they’ll have to get through a few more people.

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