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The Truth Behind Nadal’s Improved Serve: It Wasn’t Just A Grip Change!

By Tom Allsopp,

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In 2010 Rafael Nadal’s serve dramatically improved. His average serve speed when winning the 2010 US Open was an astonishing 126MPH. Everyone asked the question, how did Nadal’s serve improve so much? Many people assumed it must be the result of steroids but throughout the tournament we were told it was all down to a grip change. Nadal had changed his grip to more of a traditional continental placing his hand more on top of the racket. Personally I didn’t buy either the grip or steroids story.

It was clear to me that he was doing something a little different with his swing. Around this time my good friend Christophe Delavaut also saw more than a grip change and put together a great video titled, Nadal’s new serve: It’s Not Just a Grip Adjustment! The video showed that Nadal’s throwing arm had dramatically changed and he was using his legs to generate more power.

Christophe Delavaut was contacted by a Spanish coach named Oscar Borras who claimed to be the coach that was instrumental in Nadal’s new and improved serve. This video shows Oscar working with Nadal, and a reluctant Uncle Toni, to improve Nadal’s serve.

The great thing about this video is we get a chance to see the number 1 player in the world put his ego aside and go back to basics to improve his service motion. Oscar Borras, clearly a great coach, has Nadal do drills such as throwing a ball, abbreviating his motion, and serving from the service line. It is great to see Nadal still wanting to make changes and improve his game even though he had already won numerous major titles. In my opinion not enough juniors try to make the necessary adjustments to take their game to the next level. They don’t seem prepared to take one step back in order to take two steps forward.

Unfortunately Nadal stopped working with Oscar Borras and after falling into bad habits Nadal seems to have lost his 2010 serve. His average first service speed in the 2011 US Open Final compared to the 2010 Final was an average of 19MPH slower (both finals were against Novak Djokovic). That’s huge! Hopefully they can reunite and Oscar can get Nadal’s serve back on track.

The Controversy……

Oscar Borrás has filed a lawsuit against Nadal in a Manacor court, asking that Nadal and Uncle Toni publicly acknowledge that the improvement in his serve was the result of a lesson that Borrás gave Nadal in October 2009. Borrás says that it was Toni Nadal who asked for his help.

Oscar says that Toni Nadal is a very nice and humble guy, and that it’s very unusual for a coach to let another coach approach his pupil. However, he wants recognition for his role, and that’s why he is going to court.

He says that he didn’t file the lawsuit sooner because he didn’t want to disturb Nadal’s focus on his tennis during the main part of the tennis season.

He adds that Nadal is an extremely quick learner, and was able to improve his serve in a matter of two hours.

I believe that Uncle Toni thought the massive improvement to Nadal’s serve reflected bad on himself as a coach and therefore didn’t want to give Oscar the credit he clearly deserves. Oscar doesn’t want money for any of his work, he just wants recognition….. well here you go Oscar!

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