Endurance and brain assessment are considered Rafael Nadal’s strengths at the age of 35, helping him develop from the start of the year.
Rafael Nadal 20 wins and only one loss in the last 10 weeks. She reached four finals in a row and won three titles, including a 21st Grand Slam at the Australian Open. All on hard court, which is not what Nadal is for.
Nadal’s return is said to be extraordinary as six months ago he was left on crutches from the medical center in Barcelona, after announcing he would miss the rest of the season with a foot injury. Nadal also did not play well when he returned in mid-December, losing his two hardcourt matches at Mubadala, to Andy Murray and Denis Shapovalov.
Mubadala’s failure and Covid-19 infection saw Nadal almost withdraw from the Australian Open. He just decided to leave for Melbourne three days before the flight schedule that had been arranged by the organizers, according to coach Toni Nadal. Nadal’s superb sublimation at the Australian Open left coach Carlos Moya, who was skeptical of his pupil’s leg recovery, finding no convincing explanation. He mentioned the spiritual weapon that Nadal always had in his 20s.
But passion is certainly not the only thing that has helped Nadal’s success over the last three months. At the age of 35, a top sports player needs a body tough enough to support his fighting spirit. In the final over five hours at the Australian Open, Nadal won Daniel Medvedevwho is 10 years his junior and is famous for his long-lasting ball game.
Nadal has been on a scientific sports diet since he was a teenager, when he was led by his uncle – Coach Toni. The Spaniard usually goes to the gym for two and a half hours on non-competitive days. The diet consists of fish, chicken, vegetables, fruits, chocolate and a little red wine. Nadal also has a genetic sports gene. His uncle, Miguel Angel Nadal, was a football star for Mallorca, Barca and Spain. Nadal certainly has the best physical training and rehabilitation team.
But all these factors can be seen in Medvedev and other outstanding players on the current ATP Tour.
When it comes to science, the 35-year-old is at a disadvantage for Nadal and most contemporary sports stars. But, there are still cases where “the older the ginger, the hotter”. Kelly Slater won world windsurfing at the age of 49 weeks after Nadal won his 21st Grand Slam. American football star Tom Brady has just withdrawn his decision to retire to continue playing professionally at 44 years of age. LeBron James scored the second most points in an NBA professional basketball tournament this season despite being 37 years old.
Tim Olds, Professor of Behavioral Epidemiology at the University of South Australia, said male speed and agility peaked in their late teens and early 20s, then steadily declined. “All other things being equal, Nadal is clearly at a disadvantage in terms of strength and toughness,” Olds said in an interview with Sydney Morning Herald last month. “Very few people are still fast and strong enough to compete after 35. I don’t think Serena Williams or Roger Federer will win another major title when they get past that age.”
Federer is the second senior tennis player to win the Australian Open, at 36 years and 173 days. Him and Nadal and Novak Djokovic proved that tennis players can still conquer the top after the age of 30 – the age at which Pete Sampras had to hang up his racket. “Skeletal muscle strength decreases with age. That means a higher risk of injury when playing sports at the highest level,” adds Olds. “In the end, it’s injuries that bring you down, no matter how you manage your body. You take longer to recover and quickly lose form.”
What Professor Olds mentioned seems to have happened to Federer, not Nadal, who was injured almost every year during his 20-year career. Nadal is said to have no advantage other than experience against Medvedev in Melbourne earlier this year. But the scientific perspective of experts shows that the Spaniard has other advantages.
Tony Blazevich, a professor of biomechanics at Edith Cowan University, said that endurance athletes peak at the age of 30, but will be slower if playing time is longer, as was the case with Nadal. In other words, the longer the show goes on, the older the best people get. Professor Olds agrees on this point. He said the average age of the 10,000m world record holder was 23, rising to 26 for the half marathon and 36 for the marathon.
“It could be argued that their brains learn to move more efficiently over time,” Olds said. “They can run at the same pace using less oxygen. Medvedev initially had a speed advantage but the more hours he played, the less advantage he had over Nadal. Endurance is now an advantage. Nadal’s position”.
This comment explains why Nadal has won many determined and difficult matches since the start of the year. He often beats opponents in tie-breaks, the decisive third or fifth set. At the Australian Open, Nadal took four sets to beat Karen Khachanov and Matteo Berrettini, and five sets to beat Denis Shapovalov and Medvedev. At last week’s BNP Paribas Open, the 91-time ATP title holder played two consecutive three-set matches, and four tie-breaks, before reaching the final. lost to Taylor Fritz.
Professor Blazevich says men’s peak muscle strength is late, usually between the ages of 30 and 40. This helps older athletes’ endurance not decrease as much even when they are 40 to 45 years old. This factor combined with experience can compensate for other physical weaknesses, such as reflexes or skeletal muscles. The final set of the Australian Open final saw Nadal beat Medvedev time and time again and the Russian looked more tired than his senior.
“Nadal’s reflexes are not as fast as Medvedev’s, but he has more experience to predict what will happen next,” added Blazevich. “The more he plays, the better his brain processes are, enabling early ball trajectory prediction and hitting decisions. Stamina includes both physical and psychological. Nadal, as we know, always He has incredible mental strength. The fact that he has beaten all opponents being strongest in the biggest tournament might be the mental key to defeating Medvedev.”
Professor Olds believes that practice is the only way for older players like Nadal to stay on top of the game. He said: “No matter how much you eat to nourish your body, nothing can replace vigorous exercise. Exercise will help the heart get used to the workload, increasing the efficiency of oxygen exchange. Bones and joints are a problem. The problem is more difficult to solve. , but still reduces the risk of injury if there is a proper diet and exercise. I believe Nadal or any elderly athlete should supplement calcium and minerals in their diet. eat their diet to maintain endurance”.