Rafael Nadal was back in action at Wimbledon as he hit one of the outside courts for a practice session on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of his quarter-final against Taylor Fritz tomorrow. The Spaniard was locked in and spent an hour hitting with new coach and former pro Marc Lopez.
Nadal opted not to practice at Aorangi Park on Tuesday, instead wanting to get time in on one of Wimbledon’s smaller playing courts. The second seed is back in a Wimbledon quarter-final after three years without playing on the grass, and doesn’t appear to be any changes ahead of his grudge match with Taylor Fritz.
The Spaniard will face the 11th seed for the first time since losing to him in this year’s Indian Wells final, and is already well aware that this could be his chance to get revenge after cracking a joke about the defeat following his fourth round win on Monday. “He’s playing well, he’s having [an] amazing year winning first Masters 1000 – against me by the way in the final,” he said in his on-court interview, earning laughs from the crowd.
And Nadal was locked in during his hit on Court 16, as he arrived to a packed crowd of and who had caught word of the 22-time Grand Slam champion’s choice of venue for today’s session. The 36-year-old smiled as he sat at his bench on court to prepare but quickly turned on his laser focus as he practised his ground strokes.
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The two-time champion at the All England Club clearly feels he can make a lot more improvements going into his last-eight match as he appeared irritated at times when he would send the ball long or dump it into the net. And it appears he believes one of the keys to his match against Fritz will be his forehand down-tie-line, something he placed heavy emphasis on with coach Francisco Roig.
Nadal was deep in conversation with his coach during one water break as both replicated swing motions before Roig joined Lopez on the opposite side of the court to his charge, standing in the middle of the court while the world No 4 practised hitting his forehand down the line and right into the corner of the court. After the first round of forehands, Roig gave Nadal a new explanation and nodded his head after the second round.
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The second seed also didn’t look like he was there to mess around, even in a practice session. He kept laser focused, barely reacting when a fan in the stands caught a ball he mishit, even when Lopez joined in on the fun with his own impressive catch when the ball was returned to him.
But he did let his focus go on a couple of occasions after finally nailing the down-the-line forehand, impressing the crowd with his football skills on the tennis ball and laughing along with the applause. Nadal is clearly aiming to better his performance with every round and will bring his best for his rematch with Fritz on Tuesday.