For the past couple years, Rafael Nadal has played very well during the spring and early summer season and then struggled with both injuries and his form after Wimbledon for the rest of the year. Clearly, the series of clay-court tennis tournaments in April and May leading up to the French Open are perfectly suited to Nadal’s game. Therefore, Nadal has won many titles during that time period, played a lot of matches and gained an
enormous amount of confidence. He has also worn out his body a fair amount by the middle of each year. However, Nadal has also reached the Wimbledon final the past two years and won hard-court titles in each of the past couple years proving without a doubt that he can play very well on all surfaces including hard courts and grass. So how should Rafa tweak his schedule for 2008? Nadal needs to adjust his schedule so that he can maintain his winning ways through the U.S. Open where he has played poorly and in pain the past couple years. Cutting back on the spring clay court tournaments would probably be a mistake because those tournaments seem to establish Nadal’s confidence which he has then carried onto the grass courts at Wimbledon. However, the one major change that might help Nadal would be for him to take an extended mid-year break, i.e. at least a month after Wimbledon (as Federer has done the past few years). It might really be just the “pause that refreshes” for the second half of the tennis season.