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Carlos Alcaraz, Elena Rybakina, Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick

Carlos Alcaraz, Elena Rybakina, Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick

Carlos Alcaraz is a greatly popular player and he should be. He plays with passion and has a unique flare to not only hit shots no other player would dare but to turn those shots into winners, and he knows how to involve the crowd in a positive way in his matches. He is going to be a dangerous player on the ATP tour for the next decade-plus.

But while some love Alcaraz’s aggressiveness, he does sometimes get himself in trouble by hitting a few too many unnecessary unforced errors when he is too aggressive. Alcaraz has the ability to hit any shot with pace and the strength to hit balls with pace that he barely reaches. To other players, that can be demoralizing.

But one area where Alcaraz has not increased his efficiency in his serve. Maybe he will never been the best server in the game because he is 6-feet tall whereas players who do have incredible serves, such as Hubert Hurkacz who is 6’5″, are taller and get more leverage. But Alcaraz could get better with his serve which would help his game overall.

On the first episode of Andy Roddick’s new podcast, Served with Andy Roddick, Roddick spoke about Alcaraz’s serve saying, “I think his serve leaves a lot to be desired. That is the one thing that I don’t think has really improved much at all in the last two years.” Is Carlos Alcaraz’s serve a reason that Jannik Sinner overtakes him in the ATP rankings? Very possibly.

Elena Rybakina is a Grand Slam champion but her ranking has recently slipped from No. 3 on the WTA tour to No. 5. Maybe this is partly because players are not afraid of her in the same way they might be Iga Swiatek. Swiatek is not immune to showing flashes of emotion and sometimes that might catch her opponents off-guard. Rybakina, however, seems to almost constantly be in control of her emotions, though that takes effort.

Speaking on the Mind Set Win podcast recently, Rybakina talked about keeping her calm on the court. Rybakina said, “I’m trying to, no matter of the situation, to be calm and try to not show if I’m upset or if I’m angry. I think this is something that worked especially well in the beginning when no one knows you and you’re coming calm on the court and then you’re playing really well. I think now it also helps me and also maybe confuses opponents sometimes.”

But she added, “Sometimes you need to show the emotions to show the opponent that I’m still there and I’m still fighting. This is something that we are trying to work on and this is something I need to improve.” Tat is likely. Doing things one’s opponent is not expecting can many times be very productive.

Rafael Nadal missed almost all of 2023 after injuring his hip in the second round of the 2023 Australian Open. The injury required surgery and then a lot of rehab. But Nadal made his way back to tennis to start 2024 and won two matches at the Brisbane International before injuring the same hip in the third round.

According to his coach, Carlos Moya, in a conversation with Punto de Break, “A break at these levels is 3-4 weeks and in this case we have been lucky that it has not gone further. This happens in sport, but it is true that the moral blow has been big because he seemed prepared and problems from the past come back to you again.”

Thankfully, Nadal’s new injury is not as dire as his previous one. Nadal is expected to play at the Qatar Open which begins on February 19. Nadal won the tournament once before in 2014.

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