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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Monday, April 29, 2024
Few champions have mined the power of predictability as effectively as Rafael Nadal.

From his ritualistic run back to the baseline after the coin toss, to his precise placement of his bottle like a chess master placing a pawn in position to the flurry of forehands crosscourt that can sweep even experienced opponents right off the court, the 14-time Roland Garros champion is the ultimate high-percentage player.

Rafa Nadal: Not Fully Fit For Madrid, Will Do Everything to Play Paris

These days, the king of clay is feeling a little like a mercurial monarch.

The 36-year-old Spanish superstar says there's one key different to his game: he's more unpredictable.

"I am more unpredictable than what I used to be," Nadal told the media in Madrid after his three-set win over Pedro Cachin. "I used to be not very unpredictable player. I used to be more or less predictable player because I have been very regular in terms of emotionally talking and in terms of level talking of tennis.

"Building every day a little bit better but more or less stable, no? There is difference. I am more unpredictable for the opponents but especially for myself."

The five-time Madrid champion scored his third consecutive victory at the Mutua Madrid Open today. It's the first time Nadal has won three matches in a row since the 2022 US Open.

Now, Nadal will aim to summon some chaos against 30th-seeded Jiri Lehecka, who beat the 22-time Grand Slam champion in practice last week.

"I hope [my level is higher], because I lost," Nadal said of Lehecka. "But I don't know. Let's see. I cannot predict what's going on tomorrow, what can happen tomorrow, what level I gonna show tomorrow."

Photo credit: Matteo Villalba/Getty