Rafael Nadal reached the Wimbledon final in five consecutive appearances, prevailing in 2008 and 2010.
When the lights go out at the All England Club and fans stream out of the gates in awe of a day’s play on the pristine lawns, it is likely that Rafael Nadal will be the subject of some of their discussions.
With two titles (2008, 2010) and three runner-up appearances (2006-07, 2011), the Spaniard has left an indelible mark on the grass of Wimbledon, characterised by his hunger for victory and a huge capacity to adapt. It’s clear that his grass-court magic isn’t just natural instinct, but rather the fruit of a life of hard work.
Few are more familiar with the work of the Mallorcan than Francis Roig, a permanent member of his coaching staff since 2005. The Mallorcan spoke to ATPTour.com about Nadal adapting his game to grass, which has been an essential component in establishing his legacy.
“The first time I saw Rafa play on grass was around 2002 or 2003,” Roig recalled. “At the time, I was still coaching Feliciano Lopez and I hadn’t started working with Nadal. Rafa came to play in the
juniors. He didn’t have anyone to rally with, so I played with him that day.”
The stories of Wimbledon that had been shared by his Uncle Toni were etched into Nadal’s mind and his determination to master the surface was evident in every shot. Inside the walls of the All England Club, steeped in history, was a wide-eyed young man who would do anything to progress.
“From the first moment, I could see that he was very capable of adapting to grass,” Roig said. “A few years had to go by before he would earn confidence and the knack for playing on it. But Rafa has a quality, among many, that I think is incredible and makes him different to the rest. He knows how to overcome adversity like no other.
“Little by little, he started to learn how to play on grass. I think that this is one of the things that sets Rafa apart, that he always finds solutions. These situations are where he has demonstrated that. People who thought he wouldn’t be able to play well on grass have seen that he did.”
As time has gone by, the Spaniard has become a revered player in London. With a 53-12 record at Wimbledon, Nadal has enjoyed a long history of success at the season’s third Grand Slam. From his first final just a few weeks after turning 20, to his assault on the title last year at age 34, he has consistently found a way to contend for the trophy.
“There was a turning point on grass for Rafa. At first, he played with huge intensity that intimidated his opponents. He played at a very fast rhythm and was able to move much better than now, as he was much younger,” Roig said. “Later, he showed such a huge evolution in his game that, to me, he practically played better on grass than on hard courts. I think he produces better tennis. He likes playing on grass when he has time to adapt, although it’s true that the grass and current balls are maybe slower than before.”
Nadal’s most recent showings at Wimbledon will make him one of the favourites to win at next year’s event. Few have doubted his ability to contend for another trophy in London and he’s provided plenty of evidence that he has more outstanding grass-court tennis to give.
“He has played stunning tennis in the past three editions. In 2017, he lost in the fourth round to Gilles Muller in a match that could have gone either way. He was playing well enough to do something big that year at Wimbledon. He came close in the past two years,” Roig reflected. “You have to expect anything from Rafa. It wasn’t his favourite surface, but he adapted by searching for solutions and he is great at that. He competes every day. You can never write him off in a match or for things in his career that seem difficult. You always have to expect that he’s capable of the best.”
History can attest to that. Nadal reached the Wimbledon final on five consecutive occasions between 2006-2011 (he withdrew from the 2009 event due to knee tendonitis), an achievement that only three other men (Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Roger Federer) have accomplished in the Open Era.
“Playing five consecutive finals at Wimbledon is quite a feat,” Roig said. “It’s true that a few years have gone by where he didn’t play well and injuries didn’t help him. In addition, he has always had the handicap of arriving on the grass somewhat depleted after Roland Garros. It takes a very big toll and you have to take that into account.
“But it’s not just his five finals. It’s also the semi-finals he has recently played. I would rate him very highly among Wimbledon players. It goes without saying that you’d have to place him among the best players in history on any surface.”
EndSARS: Tension as N’Delta militants roll out 11-point demand
WARRI- MILITANT groups from the nine states of the Niger Delta region, which vowed to resume hostilities, last Monday in support of #EndSARS protests, triggered fresh anxiety, weekend, as it presented 11 new demands to the Federal Government.
Leader of the militants under the auspices of Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA, self-styled “Major General” Johnmark Ezonebi, in an electronic mail statement, said the coalition had communicated multinational oil companies to evacuate their staff to avoid human causalities.RNDA stated: “In support of the existing demands by the #EndSARS protesters, we have added new demands that could stop the mayhem on foreign oil multinationals, oil and gas infrastructures and the Joint Military Task Force involved in the Operation Crocodile Smile in the region.”
We have vowed to take the destiny of our region into our hands and kick-start the occupation of all the major oil wells and the oil platforms, we will also bring down all major crude oil production pipelines to zero,” it added.
First on the demands of the RNDA is: “Urgent release of the N98 billion gas flare penalty fund to the host communities of the Niger Delta, which are funds domiciled in the Federation Accounts through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, by the International Oil Companies, IOCs, as payment to compensate the communities being affected in the creeks of the Niger Delta due to their environmental pollutions and environmental hazard caused the multinational oil companies.”
The group recalled the President Muhammadu Buhari administration withdrew $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account sometime in 2019 to acquire heavy weapons to fight Boko Haram insurgents in the North East, adding: “This is wicked and insensitive to the peace accord signed with the people of the Niger Delta region, most especially the RNDA militant group that accepted the ceasefire agreement on 21st of August 2016 and nothing has been done so far.”
“Secondly, we demand the total control of our God -given resources in the region. If some parts of northern states are allowed to operate and will be given license to engage in illegal mining and sale of gold, it means it is time the people of the Niger Delta region, especially the Ijaw ethnic nationality be given equal opportunity to go ahead with artisan and local refining of crude oil in the creeks without any form of intimidation and harassment from the Nigerian government as well.
Thirdly, RNDA demands that riverine areas in Niger Delta be connected to the cities with roads and bridges with provisions in the 2021 budget. A road project for instance should connect Warri to Ogulagha, Burutu local government area, which is a host to Forcardos Terminal, producing over one million barrels of crude oil that contribute trillions of dollars to the federal government on daily basis.
“Fourthly, the proposed 2021 budget, which appropriated billions of naira to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, should be withdrawn and put on hold and the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs should not be allowed to defend the proposed budget until the substantive board of the NDDC is inaugurated and sworn in by President Muhammadu Buhari.
We also demand that Senator Godswill Akpabio be mandated to hold a town hall meeting with the traditional rulers, stakeholders and leadership of RNDA militant group in the creek in order to show a genuine intention that the budget proposal will not witness embezzlement and diversion of billions to Akpabio and his cronies’ pockets without any tangible and practical development in the creeks of the region.”
“And we also demand immediate take- off and re-opening of the Burutu Seaport by the federal government, which should be included in the 2021 budget.
More importantly to the RNDA militant group, we call for an emergency review of the Revenue Allocation Act in other to give proper interpretation of the 13 per cent derivation funds that will not be deposited in the hands of the so- called inhuman wicked corrupt minded Niger Delta governors that has been pocketing the billions of naira on monthly basis from the federation allocation account without getting to the oil producing communities in the creeks of Niger Delta and without any accountability to the long neglected emancipated oil producing communities that are the original owners of the 13 per cent derivation funds , according to section 162 sub section 2 of the 1991 constitution as amended.
“So we demand proper interpretation of this Act by the Attorney General of the Federation as to the chief law officer of the country because the people of the Niger Delta oil producing communities are tired of this perpetual man-made injustice caused by the so -called Niger Delta callous inhuman wicked and corrupt minded governors.
“We also called for a review of the four-point agreement with the Host Communities of Nigeria, HOSTCOM, which was submitted to the federal government by the national chairman, Prince Mike Emuh, and has not been approved up till date. The provisions of the agreement which include 10,000 pipeline surveillance jobs to the oil producing communities through the leadership of HOSTCOM has not been approved.
Yet the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC went ahead to award pipeline surveillance contract to one individual, Chief Captain Hosa Wells Okunbor, who is the managing director of Ocean Marine Solutions Company that is handling the pipeline surveillance security contract worth over 18. 6 million dollars annually just for OML30, which is TFP pipeline security surveillance contract alone.
“Not to talk of the Trans Escravos Warri Kaduna pipeline amounting to over 20. 5 million dollars annually and that of the Bonny Nembe Creek trunk pipeline surveillance job that worth over 2.7 million dollars contract in the creek of Niger Delta. RNDA and HOSTCOM are not benefiting from these billion dollars pipeline surveillance security contract jobs in the hands of one individual from Edo state and the situation will not be accepted any more in the creek as far as the pipeline surveillance security contract job is concern.
Therefore, RNDA demands pipeline security surveillance job to accommodate the members of the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers group, who are over 5,000 in the creek and we will no longer allow this to happen any more in the creek or else we will bring down all the pipelines in our creek within the stipulated time of ultimatum.
“Furthermore, we demand release of the 10 licenses for modular refineries in Niger Delta, which the federal government has not approved up till this moment, yet the Federal Executive Council is approving billions and trillions every week in the presidency through the sales of our crude oil on 1.86 million dollars to 2.2 million dollars barrels on daily basis without any tangible,” the militants said.
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