Rafael Nadal's 2021 season was heavily conditioned by the flare-up of his foot injury. The Spanish phenomenon has suffered from this nuisance since 2005, but over the years he had always managed to stop the problem thanks also to the use of a special insole.
The pain returned with arrogance during the Roland Garros semifinal lost to Novak Djokovic. In addition to not being able to fight all the way for the 14th title in Paris, the former world number 1 was also forced to miss Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics.
The 35-year-old from Manacor returned to the tour a couple of months later in Washington, in what represented his first participation in the ATP 500 staged in the US capital. His journey ended in front of Lloyd Harris, who highlighted all the physical difficulties of the 20-time Grand Slam champion.
A few days later, Rafa decided to close his 2021 early. The Iberian veteran also underwent a small foot treatment, hoping to be 100% by the beginning of 2022. In a long interview with 'AS', former Olympic silver medalist Jordi Arrese analyzed the moment Nadal is experiencing.
Arrese opens up on Rafael Nadal
"If Rafael Nadal recovers, he still has two or three very good years left because he has too good a level and is a mental predator," Arrese was quoted as saying by AS. According to Arrese, the player with the maximum Slam titles will be considered the GOAT.
"Each one may like more or less one, but the one that takes the most 'Grand Slams' is the one they will say is the best," he said. "That fight is between the three of them and although it seems that winning another 'Grand Slam' is close, it is not so easy."
During the course of the media interaction, Arrese also spoke about 18-year-old Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz. Alcaraz has long been referred to as the 'next Rafael Nadal' due to his prodigious talent and claycourt prowess.
"With a couple of years, he will have plenty of experience and the mentality to be a great player and do great things. You do not have to rush him, he is mentally prepared and he will not have any problem even if they put pressure on him, but he is Carlos Alcaraz and you do not have to compare him with anyone," said Arrese.
"Achieving what Rafael Nadal has achieved is practically impossible, we will see if someone surpasses it," he said. "Djokovic is the only one I see prepared and who is likely to do so, but every time the young people go up a step it will be more difficult to beat them."