Darwin Blanch has to find a way to control nerves during Rafael Nadal showdown admits Andy Roddick

Wednesday, 24 April 2024 at 23:00
Andy Roddick offered advice to Darwin Blanch ahead of his showdown against Rafael Nadal in the first round of the Madrid Open. The former world No. 1 shared on his podcast, "Served with Roddick," that the 16-year-old must work on his footwork on clay and capitalize on Rafa's service woes.
The Blanch-Nadal clash has sparked great anticipation, not only due to the return of the 22-times Grand Slam champion to Madrid, but also because Blanch himself has drawn attention for his youth, contrasting with Nadal, making it the largest age difference match in Masters 1000 history, with over 21 years apart.

"Your feet are the first thing to go," Andy Roddick advises Blanch before facing Nadal.

The 2003 US Open champion suggested that Blanch needs a way to control nerves when playing against Nadal, who will likely have ample support from the crowd: "Focus on your breathing. Exhale when you hit the ball," was Roddick’s advice to the youngster.
"Your feet have to move. Your feet are the first thing to go when you’re nervous, when something’s wrong. Darwin Blanch. Move your feet," Roddick added. "It is a little bit different and there is cause for optimism if you’re Blanch and I’m his coach, in the situation where, by the way, I want to get to the fact that he’s our best prospect and he doesn’t live in America."
According to Roddick, even though they're in Madrid on clay, Blanch has to seek a positive start to put pressure on his opponent: "Rafa isn’t No 1 in the world. You’re still on clay, you’re still in Madrid, the ball jumps everywhere. If he gets a hot day, he is going to get a lesson in a ball jumping off of a court."
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Nadal will play in the Madrid Open for the 14th time in his career, having clinched the title on 4 occasions.
“But if I’m his coach I’m saying ‘Listen, all the respect in the world. You can give credit to this guy and also, I don’t know if this is true on clay, time will tell, he’s not a top-ten player in the world at this moment. He’s a guy who is ranked 800th in the world’.
“And I would be feeding him this narrative even if I didn’t believe it myself,” he added. “If you get off to a hot start, he is compromised and he is not serving properly yet. I would be trying to feed these positive thoughts.”
“He looks like a mini-Shelton. He has a big serve, a cool vibe. He played at the Miami Open and it was clear that his footwork is not making sense yet,” the former world No. 1 claimed. “This is cool. How fortunate is he that Rafa has four tournaments left to be able to say I played Rafa. I hope he enjoys it.”
“Also, this kid is in a situation in Spain with Juan Carlos Ferrero, coach of Carlos Alcaraz, and he plays for America. He has our flag. Ten of 15 years ago, they would have tried to reel his ass back into America. Leave him there.”
“Send him all the player development money they are taking away and let him train with Carlos Alcaraz and become, be guided by Juan Carlos Ferrero and be a top three player. That would be awesome,” Roddick concluded.

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