Rafael Nadal became the protagonist of a truly extraordinary start to the season, in which he proved once again to be an absolute legend of modern sport. The Spanish champion won his first 20 games played in 2022 and won the Australian Open against all odds.
In a tournament that had often been hostile to him in the past, the former world number 1 achieved one of the most incredible rides of his entire career. After surviving two real battles against Denis Shapovalov and Matteo Berrettini, the 35-year-old from Manacor came back two sets behind Daniil Medvedev in the final.
The Iberian thus hoisted himself to 21 slams, bypassing Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the all-time standings. Rafa will try to stretch further at Roland Garros, while Nole will be the big favorite at Wimbledon. Since winning his second title at Church Road in 2010, the Majorcan has only reached one final in his subsequent eight appearances in London.
Guest in the latest episode of the 'Court-Side with Beilinson Tennis' podcast, Craig O'Shannessy analyzed Nadal's difficulties in the Championships.
O'Shannessy opens up on Rafa Nadal
"You got Rosol that beat [Rafael Nadal].
You got Darcis that beat him. You got Dustin that beat him. I think overall, when Rafa will sit down and look at those matches, [he'll see that] players came at him," O'Shannessy said. "Players attacked him, they went after him and he didn't go after them enough.
I think he was too passive. I think he didn't come to the net enough." Craig O'Shannessy said the 35-year-old's usual approach might be better suited to clay and hardcourt, but on grass, Nadal should be looking to be much more offensive.
"I think that he let the guys do their stuff against him too much. He didn't assert himself out there as much as he could have," O'Shannessy said. "I think it's a matter of backing the foot off the pedal, putting the ball back into play and letting [the other] guys make a mistake like on hardcourts and clay.
He just got on the wrong side of that. He just didn't play his best grass court tennis. Dustin [Brown] did beat Rafa at Halle. But when we get to Wimbledon, [Rafael Nadal] is the heavy favorite. However, Dustin does what Dustin does.
A lot of what he did to win that match was already set in his DNA," O'Shannessy said. "What I was able to do was show him exactly how to play against Rafa, what to expect from him and where to attack. And he did that extremely well. He nailed it."