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Nicklaus Inspires Rafa's Rocket Serve

Jack Nicklaus© Getty ImagesJack Nicklaus attended the 2009 US Open.

Tennis fans have marveled at Rafael Nadal’s much-improved serve, which was a big factor in his recent title run at the US Open, where he completed a career Grand Slam. Now we know the inspiration behind the dramatic improvement: US golf legend Jack Nicklaus.

"I saw a video by Jack Nicklaus that changed my vision,” Toni Nadal, Rafa’s uncle and coach, told daily newspaper ABC.  “In it Nicklaus said:  'First strike far, then we will think about getting the ball inside.’ I said to myself: 'This man must be right'. That is what I applied with Rafael. First strike hard, then we will get the ball inside," he added.

Nicklaus, the winner of 18 major golf titles, is a huge tennis fan. He has three natural grass courts and plays every Saturday and Sunday.

Uncle Toni went on to say that Nadal’s work ethic was just as much responsible for his nine Grand Slam titles by age 24 as was his natural talent. “You either have talent or you don't. But what makes the difference is hard work," he said. "Since he was a child I set a long-term goal for him: to be a great professional. In life you have to have hope to advance."

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