You may recall me writing a blog about the great man himself Roger Federer back in January. STA Access Player Liam Broady was fortunate enough to ‘warm’ him up for his match. Here we got to see Rogers pre-match routine and I must say it was more ‘relaxed’ than I had imagined. Fast forward 5 months and to yesterday’s blog and I was fortunate enough to meet RF in the changing rooms moments before he went on for his 4th round battle with Davide Goffin – it looked more like RF was warming up for a comedy show with his mates. His ‘chilled’ nature was amazing to see – almost horizontal!
Well today, Josh Ward-Hibbert became part of Rafael Nadal’s pre-match routine – he played the part of the ball machine. Rafa arrived 3 hours before his match to the practice court with a face like thunder – `business like` is how I would describe EVERYTHING he did. With the class of the man he stopped and shook our hands before storming to the baseline with his weapon in hand and ‘booooom’ the first ball was struck. This continued at a frantic pace for the next 30 minutes. Josh I must say held his own and did himself proud in front of a crowd that must have been 800 people or more. The session finished with another thundering forehand precisely, and at the speed of the light into the corner, and Rafa had collected his bag, signed a couple of autographs and he was off (not before he kindly stopped for a photo and handshake with Josh – class!) Not a smile, not a hint of relaxation. Rafa was getting in the zone, his zone, his zone that he gets in like no other ever has (in my opinion). His mind was being placed in his steel cage and we were fortunate to witness it happening. He left us and went on to advance to the quarter finals with an emphatic 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 victory against the 13th best player on the planet!
The 2 greatest players to ever play this sport and two completely opposite ends of the spectrum. I mean completely opposite ends! I feel so lucky to have witnessed both first hand.
The massive glaring similarity for me though – they both have a very clear pre-match routine. Yes both are very different, but they know themselves inside out and know what gets themselves going. Rafa does not know how to get Roger motivated and Roger does not know how to get Rafa motivated – they don’t need too, they know themselves very, very well!
Earlier today, I had breakfast with Luke Saville and then shared a taxi to the grounds. Luke Saville is the current World Number 1 Junior. As we spoke, he was very methodically sorting his drinks for the days, he was planning the time he left the hotel and you could see from speaking to him, was very comfortable with how his day was going to go. I see great similarities between Luke and the great men discussed above and it was no surprise that he put in a world class performance.
Director, SotoTennis Academy
Inspiring Excellence | Tennis Academy Spain