Rafael Nadal’s coach Francis Roig has explained that the only way to beat Roger Federer on grass is by forcing the Swiss star to slice the ball on his backhand. Federer is absent from Wimbledon this year for the first time in 23 years as he continues his recovery from knee surgery.
Federer’s last final appearance came in 2019 when he lost the epic five-setter to Novak Djokovic. In the semi-finals, the Swiss star knocked out fellow Big Three member Nadal in four sets.
However, Nadal did have a plan going into that match but Roig felt his player did not take the necessary risks.
“You have no choice but to be aggressive at certain times, and that helps him. Against [Roger] Federer he was too conservative [in 2019]. I told him ‘if Federer hits you four flat backhands in a row we won’t win, but if you make him cut the ball… you have a lot of chances of victory’,” Roig told the ATP Tour’s Spanish website.
Nadal is planning to be more aggressive at Wimbledon over the next fortnight and is one of the favourites for the title. The 22-time Grand Slam winner is looking to claim his third Major of the year.
The 36-year-old has not won a title in SW19 since 2010 but Roig is confident he will be able to challenge Djokovic should the pair meet in the final.
“He had a few years in which he didn’t play well on grass, but if he’s doing well, there are fewer rivals who can beat him on grass than on hard courts,” Roig added.
“In that same way, I think he is closer to Djokovic on this surface than on fast. Being difficult to beat on both [surfaces] and considering that he is the favourite [at Wimbledon], there are more chances to beat him here.
“After spending three years without playing on grass, he got ahead on the scoreboard without playing great tennis.
“In the second set he played better, he did more damage with his ball. With the break up, the game got out of control, he lost the third, and in the fourth, it was complicated.
“But after three years without playing on grass, and in a first round, he’s fine.”