My philosophy as a player and a coach is if you aren't confident in your serve, fix it NOW. It is the single most important shot in the game and is the easiest to practice, even in your own backyard.
...or not receiving the opening kick.
Nadal receives!!! Sort of like taking black in chess.....
I always like to receive, it's a big advantage.
If you win the first game you have the break and if you lose your still even!!!
It's a no brainer.
No, not related.
Opting immediately for a more defensive stance by not serving, taking black, or kicking instead of receiving are all the same tactic.
I guess if I didn't serve very well, that's what I would do.....
Unless you're confident that you can hold your first service game at all costs, i think it's a mental edge to receive serve first. Because the serve is the one weapon that is not in control of the opponent and if you have to work hard or worse yet, get broken in your very first service game to start the match - that's a big confidence blow I'd think. Not to mention you're already playing catch up from game 2 of the set and most amateurs start hitting the panic button very soon and before you know it they'll be serving at 0-2.
I only elect to serve first if a) i don't care for strategy and tactics and just want to have fun b) i am 100% sure i can win my first service game so either i know the opponent is not a quick-starter or a great returner or my serves are on fire. In all other cases I'd pick to receive first. Worst case scenario the guy holds easily and feels bold in which case I'll just have to focus on my service game and remind myself I'm on serve and the match just started. If I can win a few points on his serve and get into the groove, not only will i have an early start on reading his serve, he'll also know that his service games aren't going to be easy so more pressure for him to serve better. And if I do break, I usually just treat it as a brand new set with me serving first with the added bonus of being up 1-0 and having an opponent who knows i'm not messing around. Win.
that's like the one part of my game I agree with Nadal on I guess.
While you're improving your serve to the point that it is a weapon and not a liability (both 1st and 2nd deliveries!!!) feel free to receive, but only if you're supremely confident in your return game vs. the current opponent's serve.
Much easier to control tempo and momentum with your serve rather than trying to control the opening game receiving unless of course you use the stall tactics employed by today's top players.
So why did Nadal elect to receive?
Nadal always has a chance to break, if he could get it the psychological edge would be greatly in his favor.
What about the mental edge of being first to having a game up after serving?
That's what he's giving up.
With Nadal it matters probably less mentally than anyone, so he doesn't give up that edge, he plays a game at a time regardless of the score.
Nadal had a chance to catch Djokovic "cold" in that first game. If you saw the match then you could see Nadal coming out strong and trying to win that first game.
Lucky for Djokovic that he was strong in that first game also and got into the match quickly.
Nadal gave himself a chance to see how his game was without getting broke, he could do no worse than being "on serve".
It was a good choice for Nadal and for him with his mental game the right tactic.