Is Nadal Juicing?

I can’t help but ask the question. I like the guy and his desire is unquestionable. His will to win is almost unparalleled in his sport (perhaps Federer in a more quiet way matches him) or any other. But, isn’t that what everyone always said about Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens? I don’t know the answer and I’m not here to disparage the man’s name. He makes tennis exciting and we all know that tennis needs all the excitement possible to maintain interest in the sport. Without Nadal and Federer, the sport would be in trouble. That being said, I honestly can’t explain how a man can increase his serve speed 20% in a matter of months. How a man can run in a defensive manner for hours on end and still look ready for hours more? How a man can muscle balls into winners from awkward and bio-mechanically unsound positions?  You tell me.


25 thoughts on “Is Nadal Juicing?

  1. TennisFan says:

    Nadal has more red flags surrounding him than any other player

    1. He was rumored to be part of the Operation Puerto doping scandal a few years ago.

    2. Spain is notorious for doping in sport.

    3. He played the most violently athletic semifinal in the 2009 Australian Open and two days later was fresher than a well rested Federer.

    4. Federer plays a less demanding style than Nadal, yet his prime is winding up to be shorter than Nadal’s. Federer’s prime was November 2003 to November 2007. Nadal’s started in April 2005 and is still going strong.

    5. He played 7 days in a row at Wimbledon in 2007 and still nearly won the final against a well rested Federer.

    6. He claims to have had severe knee tendonitis, yet his movement on court has never been impaired.

    7. He bulked up from skinny 18 year old to bulky 19 year old and his results improved overnight (compare 2004 to 2005, the difference is scary)

    8. His shots LOST POWER last fall when he got thinner. Once he bulked back up the results improved.

    9. He is winning a higher percentage of service points at this US Open than Pete Sampras did at any US Open.

    10. This is Nadal’s worst surface and he may win the US Open without dropping a set. Something even Federer and Sampras never did.

    • Gene says:

      I love the way you’ve laid out the flags on Nadal (stuff we’ve all been talking about for years) in a clear timeline. I would add to that the ridiculous shots he makes from out of position with no leverage (like Bonds hitting ball late and still sending it out of the park). When the biomechanics don’t jive, something’s wrong.

      • SP says:


        You are the first person I heard mentioned about bio mechanics aspect of Nadal’s strokes. Especially the double handed back hand cross court shots from 10 feet away from the baseline he is able to produce continuously without getting hurting himself is not a light matter. If it were a normal player they’d have tendinitis in the elbows 6 months out of a year. The form he uses on that stroke is nothing special and in fact is generated out of very raw power.


  2. skeptic_al says:

    Any logical person will question these qualities about Nadal. He’s not a superman, we know this. The conclusion then is he’s on some supplements. Quite simple, I just don’t understand why a tennis fan or journalist cannot see this simple case/effect case.
    He simply cannot have this type of game and perform at the level he does so consistently.
    And…how come the knees are no longer a factor?

  3. CJ1 says:

    Steroids can accelerate male-pattern baldness. They keep closing in on Mecha Nadal’s head. He’s 24 and it’s looking very thin on top.

  4. Gene says:

    Yup, was noticing the thinning on top today as well. Did you see the ridiculous shot on the 2nd set point in the 1st set? I’m a tennis pro and no one on earth can get that much power and speed naturally from such out-of-position positions.

  5. Rikyu says:

    Hey Gene,

    I think there’s a lot of red flags over Nadal. What do you make of the following article about Nadal’s training?

    Here’s, but one strange excerpt:

    “Dr. Cotorro is the Barcelona-based doctor who treats several tennis players and has long enjoyed the confidence of the Nadal family. He describes Mr. Nadal as a “very special athlete,” with abnormal amounts of energy and explosiveness. “He mixes the explosive pace of a 200-meter runner with the resistance of a marathon runner,” says Dr. Cotorro.”

    • problemsolvergene says:

      Very interesting article. His knees look fine to me, just think it’s a tactic to explain why he loses power and movement when cycling off the performance enhancing substances…

  6. Kelly says:

    Found your site via the ‘Tennis Has a Steroid Problem’ site. Thanks for bringing up Nadal’s noticeable yet mysterious serve improvement and for raising the possibility that he’s juiced. The whole ‘grip’ business is an affront to anyone who has ever played tennis. And, you bring up another very valid point about the bio-mechanics of Nadal’s shots.

    If you haven’t seen it, I recommend this article:

    I’m a long-time tennis fan; I saw Martina beat Chrissie at Wimbledon in 1978. I live in So Cal and go out to Indian Wells every spring. But after all I’ve read in the last several days, I’m losing confidence in professional tennis very quickly.

  7. TennisFan says:

    The #1 thing that isn’t sitting well with me is that Nadal peaked earlier than Federer, yet he’s continuing to exceed Federer at the same age every year.

    Roger in 2000 vs Rafa in 2005: Rafa by a landslide
    Roger in 2001 vs Rafa in 2006: again Rafa by a huge margin
    Roger in 2002 vs Rafa in 2007: Rafa in mega landslide
    Roger in 2003 vs Rafa in 2008: Rafa by a lot
    Roger in 2004 vs Rafa in 2009: finally Roger finishes ahead
    Roger in 2005 vs Rafa in 2010: tied (Rafa better in Slams, Roger more dominant overall)

    That Rafa’s 2010 is matching or passing Roger’s 2005 when Roger had way more left in the tank (AND a less demanding playing style) is miraculous.

  8. Rikyu says:

    Is he juicing? I don’t know, but his ability to track down every ball is amazing given the amount of foot and knee injuries he has claimed to have had over the years:

    A short history of Rafa’s injuries:

    Rising tennis star Rafael Nadal of Spain broke his left foot and will miss the French Open, Wimbledon and the Athens Olympics.

    Foot injury delays Rafael Nadal’s comeback

    Nadal plays down foot injury fear

    Knee injury forces Nadal to retire in Paris

    “I have been playing with pain on my knees for some months now and I simply can’t go on like this.”

    2010: Part 1
    Nadal retires with a right-knee injury against Murray at the Aussie Open

    2010: Part 2
    Nadal announces knee treatments to follow Wimbledon

  9. TennisFan says:

    Something that really puzzles me is how Nadal has these hardcourt successes in little bunches and then wins nothing:

    Canada 05-Dubai 06, Nadal won 4 out of 7 hardcourt tournaments he played.

    Then he won 1 of 27 hardcourt tournaments played (2007 Indian Wells)

    Then he won 4 of 10 hardcourt tournaments (Canada, Olympics, Australian Open, Indian Wells)

    Then came the drought: 0 titles in 14 hardcourt tournaments played. A drought that just ended at the US Open.

    The commentators are always calling hardcourt his weakest surface. But why, then does he go on these tears of being unbeatable on this surface followed by long periods of not winning anything on it.

    • problemsolvergene says:

      Damn skippy. Looks like he’s off for now. What other explanation for such disparate results in such a short time?

  10. anaishilator says:

    I know I am reviving a dead thread here but, just like to add that, as well as the HC droughts that come
    in long stretches, Rafa has *never* defended a title not won on clay. Now that is not suprising as we
    all know that in a different era with varying court speeds, he would be an undoubted clay court specialist.
    But it is curious.

    Also, Nadal is a defensive grinder. We all know these guys tend to develop their games
    young and wash up young( either thru injury, burn out, or both). Hewitt was a top player in 99, number one in the world
    and a slam champion from 2000-02 and washed up by 06. Thats 7 years from prime to peak to decline. Rafa has been on tour 10 years,
    been winning slams for 6 years since 2005, and if not for a guy named Djokervic would have won miami, indian wells,
    madrid, rome and wimbledon, which combined with his barcelona and FO titles would have been 7 titles (out of 8), and
    6 in a row. There would be no talk of a decline or of possible burn out. As it is I believe there is nothing wrong with
    Rafa physically, but mentally he may be burning out because of the losses to Djoker. He has looked much slower and sloppy on court
    early in tournaments than we have ever seen and that is directly b/c Djoker has crushed his spirit to a degree.

    But without Novak( and his sudden increase in fitness in fitness is suspect as well) Rafa would be well into his 10th year
    on tour , with the most explosive and powerful grinding style with the most violently produced spin we have ever seen,
    and still dominating the tour even whilst having the most frequent( but somehow not lingering) injuries of a top player.

    In other words the fittest guy on tour is also the most injured but his injuries dont last long or have lingering
    effects because he is the most fit even though he plays the most physical grinding style with the most power
    and never gets injured or tired except for when he gets injured but never injured for long.

    It makes no sense.

    • problemsolvergene says:

      Thanks so much for your comments. I agree on all counts including Djokovic’s somewhat mysterious sudden energy–never realized gluten-free was that great!!! As for Nadal, how is his serve always another 10 mph faster at the US Open? Tweaked his grip? I’ve tweaked my grip and granted, I’m not Nadal, but it did not increase my serve speed like that!

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  12. namcor says:

    “. I agree on all counts including Djokovic’s somewhat mysterious sudden energy–never realized gluten-free was that great!!!”
    Yes, Novak had strong allergy on gluten. That can reduce fitness up to 30%. Second: Novak had in his team now Austrian physio, who was behind fittest player in tennis history: Thomas Muster. I have luck to be on couple of Thomas Muster practice. You can`t imagine that torture!

  13. problemsolvergene says:

    I like what you say, Namcor. Djokovic is less of a red flag to me than Nadal. I don’t know enough about gluten to confirm, but will take your word on the 30%, that is quite large! Thomas Muster was in amazing shape. Djokovic makes amazing gets but his flexibility was always there and although he gets shots back from crazy positions, his power from those compromised positions does not make me scratch my head as much as Nadal does.

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