Former world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka acknowledged what Rafael Nadal pulled off at the Australian Open was exceptional but suggested he wasn't that much surprised since Nadal has been having successful comebacks his entire career.
Nadal, 35, played only one event in the second part of the 2021 season because of a foot injury. Nadal made his comeback in Australia, where he captured back-to-back titles at the Melbourne Summer Set and Australian Open.
"Whatever happens we cannot compare Nadal with other tennis players, that's for sure," Wawrinka said on L'Equipe's Air Open podcast. "Nadal has been out for four, five or six months almost every two years of his career, and whether the injuries were serious or not, he always managed to come back.
And once again at this stage and level, with the difficult last year that he had, of course, it’s exceptional, just like all his career. It was brilliant to watch his win. I wasn't surprised but I admire that he is still able to do it and as I say I am not surprised because we know that he is well above everyone else.
He's proved that he's able to do things throughout his career that others can't. Sometimes, I feel, tennis is all written in advance. Before Australian Open I was talking to my coach, Dani [Vallverdu] and we discussed that Nadal will win Australian Open, because everything is written.
We saw what happened to Nadal last year, a year full of injuries and it would have been impossible to say he will win Australian Open last year. But his win is a bit similar to that Federer’s in 2017 and he has written history”.
Wawrinka preparing for his comeback
Wawrinka hasn't played since last year's March due to a foot injury. Wawrinka, 36, recently explained why he is attempting to make a comeback at the age of 36. "People often ask me why I try to come back from injury and return, but it's because tennis is a passion, I love the public" Wawrinka said.
"There are a lot who forget this when they turn professional—they take tennis too much like work. "What motivates me and pushes me still is I tell myself I'm going to play—that I'm going to have fun."
Wawrinka is expected to make his return during the clay season and play at the French Open. Wawrinka appeared in only four tournaments last year.