A gladiator’s fighting spirit, fierce forehand and comprehensive court coverage make Rafael Nadal a dangerous player on all surfaces.
Cameron Norrie, who has lost to Nadal three times this season including at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, has first-handed insight into the 35-year-old Spaniard’s skill set.
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The British No. 2 says a unique and underrated Nadal asset is he’s the master of the boomerang break. In fact, holding serve after breaking Nadal can feel like a mission impossible, says Norrie.
“I think what’s interesting when I have played him is I think I have broken him four or five times in the three times I have played him, and every single time that I have broken him he’s broken me directly, immediately after that,” Norrie told the media at Queen’s Club after beating Australian Open semifinalist Aslan Karatsev, 7-5, 6-2. “I think that just says a lot about him and just the way he competes. He loses a break and he’s honestly straight back on you.”
In a lefty vs. lefty match-up, Nadal’s skill repeatedly running around his backhand to rip his forehand made a major impression on Norrie.
“I think with his tennis, his forehand is just crazy,” Norrie said. “Especially, for me, I thought before I played him, I thought I had a pretty good game to play him with my backhand kind of getting cross, but I was hitting it right in the corner, and he was still managing to run around and find the forehand and still had me on the ropes.
“I mean, incredible player and really cool that I got to play against him, especially at two slams and obviously one of his favorite slams. And Barcelona, probably one of his favorite tournaments outside of French, maybe aside from Monte-Carlo.”
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