Sunday Star-Times

Nadal: Players chase fast kill


Rafael Nadal says tennis has become ‘‘crazy’’ in recent years, with more players going for a quick kill on court.

Nadal, of course, is known for his attritiona­l play, a man at ease with slogging it out from the baseline – a style which has garnered 16 grand slam titles.

‘‘Before, players were trying to play one ball there, one ball there, to finish the point. Since a couple of years ago, I feel that the tour has become little bit more crazy in that aspect, no?’’ Nadal said.

‘‘People are going for the point quicker than before. The players are returning faster than before, going for the winners [from] the return.

‘‘From the baseline, at the minimum opportunit­y, people go for the shot . . . we used to wait for the right ball to go for the winner. Now you go for the winner even [if you are not] in a very good position.’’

Regardless of the change in tactics from others, Nadal is doing just fine, and heads into today’s fourth round having dropped only 21 games in his first three matches.

The world No 1 has defeated Victor Estrella Burgos, Leonardo Mayer and Damir Dzumhur and now has Argentinia­n Diego Schwartzma­n – one of the shortest men in the top 100 on the ATP tour – on his agenda.

Schwartzma­n, though, should pose a threat, for he is the world No 26 (a career high), and crunched Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-7 (1-7) 6-2 6-3 6-3 on Friday.

‘‘He’s a great player. He’s a player that last year had an amazing year, and this year [is] playing so well. Being honest, he’s a player that if I don’t play my best, probably I don’t . . . win,’’ Nadal said.

What Nadal did not mention is that he has beaten Schwartzma­n in their three meetings. In fact, he has not dropped a set.

‘‘He’s able to change directions easy. He’s a player that already played the quarterfin­als in the US Open,’’ Nadal said.

Schwartzma­n, 25, is known for his determinat­ion and won’t be intimidate­d. At 1.70m, he became the shortest grand slam quarterfin­alist at last year’s US Open since Jaime Yzaga in 1994.

Schwartsma­n has taken inspiratio­n from former Argentine players, including David Nalbandian, Guillermo Coria and Gaston Gaudio, who were of a similar height. He has spoken of how important hard work is to him.

‘‘Because of my height, I’m not going to win points with one or two shots. I need to be able to stay on the court and run for every ball,’’ he said.

That’s what Nadal is also a specialist at, with each man set to benefit from more milder Melbourne weather conditions.

In a week where player health and safety was brought into focus because of the extreme heat, Nadal supports a review into the Australian Open’s heat policy.

‘‘Yeah, sometimes is too much and can become little bit dangerous for health. That’s the real thing. It’s not nice to see players suffering that much on court,’’ Nadal said.

The Age

He’s a player that if I don’t play my best, probably I don’t . . . win. Rafael Nadal

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