On his 28th birthday, The King of Clay again enlisted the assistance of a JTCC junior player to participate in his practice routine.
Five years ago, Denis Kudla’s (JTCC alum) junior French Open first round match was delayed until Monday. Kudla needed to hit in the meantime so his coach, JTCC’s Frank Salazar, and a USTA official arranged a session. His partner? Rafael Nadal. Kudla was well-aware of Nadal’s infamous practices. As described in a 2009 New York Times piece by Jose Higueras, USTA elite player development coach:
When you see him practice, its pretty spectacular. Every ball he hits with the same intensity and power. Every day, it’s like it’s going to be the last practice of his life.
On the day before his 2014 French Open quarterfinal match against fellow Spaniard and No. 5 seed David Ferrer, a 90-minute hit was arranged between Nadal and JTCC’s Francis Tiafoe. How did Tiafoe fare? Check out the video above.