With the French Open now just days away, coach Paul Annacone has questioned whether Rafael Nadal’s busy schedule in the build-up to the event will leave him feeling flat and lethargic.
Annacone knows how to prepare players for grand slam success. He coached Pete Sampras between 1995 and 2002 and also worked with Roger Federer from 2010 until 2013.
When speaking about Nadal’s chances of claiming a 10th title at Roland Garros this year, Annacone was not convinced the Spaniard would be in the best physical condition to do so as a consequence of the volume of games he has played in recent weeks.
That might seem like an odd point to make given that Nadal has had a great time of it of late. Working backwards, he reached the quarter-finals in Rome, the semi-finals in Madrid, won in Barcelona and won in Monte Carlo.
However, Annacone believes that in an attempt to generate confidence, Nadal has been far too active, especially on a surface that is associated with long points and attritional matches.
Entrenando en casa… 😉
Practicing at home… 😉 pic.twitter.com/wrVugl2jMT
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) May 16, 2016
“My big concern for Rafa is this: As you get older, it’s very difficult to sustain an unbelievably high level for a long time,” said Annacone.
“That’s how Rafa has always gained confidence, win Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Rome. At 30, that’s hard not to take something out of the fuel tank.
“That’s why people like Sampras and Federer, who innately think they’re better than everybody, not arrogantly, but matter-of-factly, age better.
“It’s why those guys can play at a high level for longer than Rafa, and, say, [Ivan] Lendl, Thomas Muster. It’s not a criticism, but an observation.
“For Rafa, it’s a matter of sustaining confidence, but not playing too much that he depletes the reserve.”