© Ella Ling

Rafael Nadal

How to make the most of being a lefty


Enjoy being different.
“Lefties supposedly use a different part of our brains, and there are only ten per cent of us out there. A lot of presidents and prime ministers are left-handed. David Cameron is left-handed, Barack Obama is a lefty, Bill Clinton is too. The lefties on the tennis tour are pretty successful too. Usually lefties are talented – there are obviously exceptions to that rule. If you look at the lefties in the past, there was Jimmy Connors, Guy Forget, John McEnroe, and now there’s Rafa Nadal. I was a lefty, too. I wouldn’t say that I was as talented as those guys. I think because left-handers use that different part of the brain, they look at tennis differently. They see it differently. Look at McEnroe. His game was unique, with his service motion and the way he volleyed the ball. That made it exciting.” 
Swing a serve out wide.
“The serve is a big advantage when you are playing a right-handed opponent. On the ad court, you can hit a swinging serve that goes out wide, which goes into their backhand, and they will probably have a double-handed backhand, so that will open up the court. On the deuce court, a good tactic is a kick serve out wide, as they will be used to the ball spinning the other way, so that’s a massive advantage. The biggest points in tennis tend to be started on the ad court – break-points and game-points are usually on that side – so the lefty has a big weapon on that side of using that swinging serve out wide. That’s assuming that you’re playing against a right-hander. If you’re serving to another lefty, a serve out wide on the ad court will play into their forehand and their strength, so you have to rethink your approach.”
Appreciate that you’re living in a world made for right-handers.
“Everything in this world is made for right-handed people. So left-handed people are meant to be more susceptible to injuries, so you have to be extra careful.” 
Put your racket grip on the ‘wrong’ way.
“Most racket grips are put on for right-handed players, but do them the opposite way as then the racket will feel a lot better in your hand. You will feel a lot more comfortable.” 
Attack a right-hander’s backhand. 
“Just look at Rafa Nadal against Roger Federer. Nadal’s forehand cross-court to Federer’s backhand, and a forehand that bounces up high, that’s a big weapon. That’s one of the big reasons why Nadal is leading in the head-to-head against Federer. By hitting that forehand to Federer’s backhand, Nadal can dictate play. It’s a great weapon to have. Nadal is using his great strength against an area of Federer’s game which is not the strongest. The right-hander cannot just follow the normal patterns of play against a left-hander, as they have to think about things in a different way, with the ball coming from a different direction. Against a left-hander, a right-hander can’t just play on auto-pilot.”