Rafael Nadal: Novak Djokovic coach reveals key strategy to beating Spaniard
Rafael Nadal has won 11 French Open titles in just 14 appearances at Roland Garros.
The 32-year-old has won 92 per cent of his matches at the five biggest European clay-court tournaments in total.
Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Rome are the other four competitions, and Nadal has earned success at each.
Over the last four years, Nadal has lost just nine times at those five events, but Craig O’Shannessy may have now worked out the key in beating the Spaniard.
O’Shannessy is a strategy analyst for Team Djokovic, and helped the Serbian see off Nadal in straight sets at the Australian Open earlier this year.
The analyst was also part of Dustin Brown’s team during his famous win over Nadal at Wimbledon in 2015 – who was ranked 102 in the world at the time.
O’Shannessy has crunched the number for the official ATP website, and revealed that Nadal will rarely ever lose from a 30/0 scoreline when serving and he also boasts a positive record when returning at 15/15.
He said: “In the past four years at these five events, Nadal has astonishingly lost serve only 12 times out of 424 service games when leading 30/0.
“It’s the next best thing to automatic, and here’s where the battle gets even harder for his opponents.
“After playing just two points on serve, Nadal is more likely to be at 30/0 than either of the other two scores.
“Nadal is still well in command when serving at 15/15, holding 83 per cent (324/392) of the time.
“Even from the perilous position of 0/30, Nadal is still effectively in break-even territory, rallying to hold 49 per cent of the time.”
Nadal will be keen to bounce back from his disappointing defeat to Djokovic in Australia, but O’Shannessy will be doing his best to help the Serbian beat him – and he has a good idea of what situations need to be avoided.
He continued: “Nadal’s most eye-popping return stat is that he has broken serve at Roland Garros 54 per cent (67/123) of the time when his opponent has served at 15/15 in the past four years.
“The game is just beginning, but Nadal’s hidden edge to break serve is already in full swing.
“Giving Nadal an early lead in the game makes winning it nearly impossible. Playing boldly against Nadal early in the game to grab the initial score advantage certainly has its merits.”
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