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Rafael doesn't waste a minute

Three days before taking the flight that would take him to Australia, Rafael called one of my sons to go to Manacor to get in touch with the ball, to do some light training. It was eight at night and they had just given him the negative result of his last PCR after spending ten days in confinement and quite damaged by the covid infection. Despite feeling fatigued and with time extremely against him, he wanted not to waste a minute and cling, as he has always done, to the slightest opportunity.

The next day he resumed his normal training and two days later, as he said, he headed towards the first Grand Slam of the year moved much more by the desire to return to competition than by the little preparation he had been able to carry out. .

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Nadal is the king of agony

It is surprising, no matter how much I dared to predict it a few days ago on these very pages, Rafael's ability to recover in record time, to compete with increasing comfort and to accept both insecurity and the challenge of playing a so high level. I guess this is one of the characteristics that great players have. In 2017, after a long time off, Roger Federer joined the Australian Open and beat my nephew in the final.

The difficult match against Denis Shapovalov that gave him the passport to the semifinals had very distressing moments for my nephew. He scored the first two sets, but he no longer had enough strength or energy to close the match in the third or fourth set. A heat stroke that overtook him at the end of the second heat led him to think that he had very little chance of victory. This is what he himself told me shortly after and this is precisely what demonstrates his remarkable desire to excel and his high competitiveness.

I think that the Canadian lacked a bit of experience or perhaps mental coldness when, even seeing the physical problems that his rival had to face, he was not able to make an effort to be more consistent in the fifth and final set. On the contrary, he decided on an aggressive tactic that reduced the number of exchanges that could so undermine his opponent, who was considerably lacking in vigor.

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In the semifinal match Rafael will face Matteo Berrettini after they did it for the first time in the same round of the US Open in 2019. My nephew won on that occasion without much trouble and in three sets, but it must be said that the Italian is, today, another player. He is clearly among the best in the world and with the necessary experience to face matches of this dimension with much more ease.

The current number seven in the world has a very fast serve and a great ability to easily change direction, which makes it very difficult to play the rest. His backhand is his weakest point, but he has, on the other hand, one of the best and fastest forehands on the circuit. He is also willing to play the ball very quickly and such a quick determination makes it difficult for the rival to take control of the game at some point.

My hopes remain solid. I believe that Rafael's last two confrontations guarantee his ability to face the semifinal and the possibility, even, that he will emerge victorious.

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