Has Nadal found another secret weapon in title bid?

Fri Sep 2, 2016 1:54pm EDT
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By Simon Cambers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - In 2010, Rafa Nadal tweaked his service action to give him more power and it helped him to U.S. Open glory later that year.

Six years on and despite the effects of a wrist injury, it looks as though he may have found another secret weapon as he bids to win a third U.S. Open crown.

While in 2010 it was an adjustment to his grip that enabled him to hit 130mph serves, this time the Spaniard has shifted his serving position on the ad-court, standing far wider than usual.

"We had to change something," Toni Nadal, the 14-times grand slam champion's coach and uncle, told Reuters. "We needed to make something different with the serve (so) we open a little more for doing the slice and angle."

When serving in the ad-court – the side where the majority of key points are played – Nadal is now standing about halfway across to the tramlines, rather than in the more traditional position next to the center line.

That gives him a bigger angle to hit to the right-hander's backhand, increasing his chances of starting the point with his favored forehand.

Crucially, because he is standing further to the left, this means the Spaniard can better protect himself against the flat backhand crosscourt return, which Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have used to such devastating effect against him.

"Yes, yes (that is true) a little, but at the moment it's not against Djokovic or Murray," Toni Nadal said. "It's against his next opponent (Nadal faces Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia later on Friday)."   Continued...

Rafael Nadal of Spain hits to Andreas Seppi of Italy. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports