Tennis commentators may now and then be struck by delivering incorrect statements. One of these statements occurred yesterday, when the spectators were told that Rafael Nadal´s serve had improved a lot in the recent 1.5 years. In reality it´s exactly the opposite – Nadal´s serve was at its best about 1.5 years ago, and has since then deteriorated again.
In my comprehensive analysis of the Spaniard, which can be studied here, I strip down the evolution of Nadal´s serve – an exercise revealing a quite complex history.
My conclusion is that Rafa´s serve reached an entirely new and more operative level prior to US Open 2010. This new and rewarding technique persisted till the clay court season 2011 when a gradual regression to former vices begun.
Let me unfold the reasoning at bit further.
During US Open 2011 and the rest of the autumn following, the serve technique looks almost miserable – although a certain improvement has become visible this year. What was then the difference between Nadals serve of today and when it appeared at its best shape?
First of all Nadal managed to deliver the ball at a higher elevation before the hit. This enabled him not only to strike from a higher and more productive angel, but also to find the resting point so utterly important in order to implement an optimal amount of power into the serve. The resting point also gave time for a more efficient use of his legs. Furthermore his hip was pushed forward more markedly.
In my view Nadal has still a job to do in order to reach his former peak serve.