The serve is such a funny thing. It's the one (incredibly important) part of any player's game over which they have complete control. And so Rafael Nadal appeared at this Australian Open having made a choice—to turn up the speed, cranking his serve in competition.
“He was the first to identify the weakness in his serve, and we as a team formulated an approach to improve it," his coach Carlos Moya told the ATP. "I’m happy to say he’s now comfortable with the revamped serve motion.”
Some may recall that Nadal did a similar thing when he won the 2010 US Open. It's worth a tip of one's proverbial cap, the concept of an active legend tweaking something such as his service motion at this stage of his heralded career.
"My serve worked well," Nadal offered after dispatching home-country hope James Duckworth in three sets. "I don't know my percentage [read: 67 percent], but there were a lot of good positions after the first serve. I felt solid with the second."
While it may seem a late-career maneuver to make, let the record show that a player—yea, a star—can always continue to improve. Novak Djokovic revealed that with his own updated service motion in his most recent comeback, and it certainly turned out fine for him. Roger Federer introduced the SABR (Sneak Attack By Roger) in the past two years, and it served to confound opponents for a good while.
Therein lies the lesson: Never stop learning. As Andy Murray may yet show, and as Nadal has put on display already this week, it's never quite over.
Follow Jon on Twitter @jonscott9.
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