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Would I have Coached Rafael Nadal Differently to Prevent Injuries?

Since the French Open, I have been asked by the media, fans, friends, and just about everyone else whom I've encountered about Rafael Nadal. They all want to know if I would have coached him any differently as a youngster and as a professional to prevent injuries. I can honestly and definitively say, "Absolutely not!"

If I look only at the facts, it would show that even if Rafael never played again, he still would go down as one of the best of all time. At the tender age of 23, he has already won six Grand Slam titles, held the No. 1 ranking in the world, and is fifth on the career money list (behind Federer, Sampras, Agassi, and Becker). Those accomplishments shouldn't be taken lightly. Of course, we would all like him to play for at least another 10 years, but he has already built a remarkable career.

Having coached tens of thousands of students, I have seen every type of athlete from the elite, like Andre Agassi to the weekend warrior. Still, I don't know if I've ever seen anyone like Nadal. He is a special, gifted tennis player. It's doubtful that anyone has his tenacity on the court. He runs for every single ball, and that constant grinding would take a toll on anyone. But if he didn't play like that, he wouldn't be where he is today. It all starts in practice. You can't just step out on the court one day and begin playing like that. You have to work at it extremely hard for years to have his stamina and energy.

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