Pat Cash has pinpointed two aspects that Rafael Nadal has to improve in his game to get back to winning ways when he makes his injury comeback in 2017.
The 14-time Grand Slam winner has struggled for fitness and form in recent seasons with his last major win coming at Roland Garros in 2014. Nadal admitted that he faced mental struggles in 2015, while 2016 saw him suffer a wrist injury which hampered his early season form, and it eventually saw him cut his season short in October.
The 31-year-old has made getting back to winning ways and challenging for Grand Slams his main goal in 2017, but is aware that it will be a difficult process with Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic in top form and the emergence of the next generation like Milos Raonic, Dominic Thiem and Kei Nishikori. Nadal has appointed Carlos Moya as one of his coaches for next season, and Cash believes the Spaniard should focus on improving his forehand and backhand depth while also working on making his serve more potent.
"For Rafa it's about rebuilding his confidence. Last year we saw him just losing his confidence under pressure," Cash told Sport 360.
"He said it a couple of years ago and it was more obvious this year. At some stage when we get older you just lose your concentration, you lose the ability to handle the stress all the time, day-in, day-out, and Rafa is showing signs of that.
"Carlos is a sharp guy. I just tend to think that some of Rafa's issues are technical and I'm not sure they've picked that up.
"I'm not sure Carlos is down that path, but still I think Rafa really needs take a good look at himself under the computer and get a specialist to see where he can improve his serve. In my opinion he needs to technically fix a couple of things in his game, he needs to get some free points, he needs to get consistency with his depth on his forehand and backhand and he just hasn't had it the last couple of years – he's never really had it," the 1987 Wimbledon champion explained.
"The problem is the last couple of years he's never really got his confidence back on that depth. That's his number one thing. He needs to be able to push his opponents back and then finish the point off. You can't push them back if the ball is just dropping in the middle of the court. So that's the number one thing for me. And his serve, he needs to fix that up a little bit."