One of the most demanding challenges that face us all everyday is not falling into the same negative, damaging and tiresome patterns that can so often serve as an impediment to progress. And it doesn't matter what field one is engaged in - we're all prone to slipping back into predictable and sluggish behavior. And so it is true for that magnificent Man from Mallorca, Rafael Nadal. Now that his physical condition and foot speed appear to be back to normal (which is great news in itself) as there appears to be no negative carryover from his miserable finish from 2009, Nadal can focus once again on strategy.
After watching his harder-than-it-should-have-been victory over rail thin German Phillip Kohlschreiber early this morning, it's evident that old habits die hard for Rafa as once again he has lapsed into his dangerous manner of standing too far behind the baseline, allowing his opponent to dictate play. Time and again, Rafa was forced to hit balls upwards of 10, 15 feet back of the court and it gave Kohlschreiber opportunities to extend the match. When striking his topspin missives from the rear, Nadal's balls frequently land at mid court, rendering his usually vicious topspin benign.
For his coaching team and many fans, this is especially agonizing because Nadal knows that this is a pattern that he cannot continue. He will not get away with this style of play when facing the likes of Murray, Del Potro or Federer (against Roddick, Nadal could maybe escape when implementing this flawed strategy). It's a mystery of sorts as to why Nadal would regress into his wrong ways. After all, he knows the only reason he was able to conquer other surfaces than clay was his ability to start stepping into the court and becoming the aggressor. It's paramount that he seeks out that sense memory and starts to play aggressively again as the matches will become more daunting, starting with facing 6'10 gentle giant Ivo Karlovic in the fourth round.
And now that his physical condition and foot speed appear to be back to normal (which is great news in itself) as there appears to be no negative carryover from his miserable finish from 2009, Nadal can focus once again on strategy.