Rafael Nadal's admits to one clear weakness following Barcelona Open victory

Nadal defeated Falvio Cobolli in his first match at the Barcelona Open.
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Rafael Nadal even at 60 percent (at most) of peak form is likely capable of beating any player that ever played. The Spaniard has unique gifts on clay, especially that ridiculous forehand with its heavy topspin that eats opponents for lunch, are even worse for foes. This was the case in his opening match at the Barcelona Open against poor Flavio Cobolli.

Nadal was far from his best against Cobolli, but he still didn't have many worries in defeating the Italian 6-2 6-3 in Barcelona. Nadal broke Cobolli several times and was able to win most of his rallies with exquisite shotmaking and bombastic cross-court forehands. That was easily enough to overcome the 21-year-old Cobolli, but the problem might be that Nadal's current form is not enough to beat players such as his next foe, Alex de Minaur.

De Minaur moves around the court extremely well and has enough experience to know how to adjust to what an opponent is trying to do. Historically, of course, Nadal will always be the greater player than de Minaur, but history does not win current matches. Nadal could defeat the Australian but his form is going to have to be consistently better than it was against Cobolli.

Rafael Nadal is clearly struggling with his serve currently

This includes Nadal's serve. The Spaniard missed a lot of his second serves and seems either out of practice or still dealing with an injured back or abdomen. Nadal admitted to this in his post-match press conference after being Cobolli as the Spaniard said, "I’m not going to serve like crazy. I have some moments where I feel more freedom. Some I feel I need to be more careful. I just need to be logical."

That makes sense as there is no need for Nadal in early matches to try to overdo anything. The variety of his game will get him past many players. But against the best players, Nadal is going to have to serve better. He isn't playing professional tennis currently to simply have fun; he still wants to win. Players such as Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas are going to take advantage of any weakness of an opponent on clay, no matter if that foe is Nadal or some lesser player.

Other tennis observers noticed the issue with Nadal's serve as well. Brad Gilbert tweeted in part, "(Nadal's) serv is more abbreviated maybe...to protect (his) stomach."

Maybe Nadal just assumed he would beat Cobolli. This is fair as Nadal is the better player. But the next step in his comeback against de Minaur is certainly not going to be easy. No matter what, the more work Rafael Nadal can get in now the better, and only helps him prepare for the French Open where he could make the final stand of his professional career.

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