Rafael Nadal achieved the unthinkable in the first six months of 2022. After stopping throughout the second half of last season, the Spanish phenomenon returned to win the Australian Open for the second time in his career. Two sets down in the final against Daniil Medvedev, the former world number 1 found the energy to overturn a one-way match until the middle of the third set.
The 36-year-old from Manacor won his first 20 games in 2022, before injuries once again limited him. A stress fracture in a rib and the usual pain in his foot did not allow him to prepare well for Roland Garros, even feeding the specter of retirement.
After a first week of running in, the Majorcan shifted gears to win his 14th title in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. The Iberian thus hoisted himself to 22 Grand Slams, further stretching Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the all-time classification.
According to the legendary Chris Evert, Rafa has an excellent chance of triumphing even on the grass of Wimbledon.
Evert opens up on Rafa Nadal
"Rafael Nadal can absolutely win here if his foot holds up. He is a great grass-court player who has improved every year to shorten his swing, shorten his rallies, and he is effective at the net, winning more points than before.
You could never count him out," Evert said. Although former World No. 4 Brad Gilbert's first pick is six-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic, he believes that Nadal could be dangerous if he gets to the second week.
"I think Djokovic is the clear favorite here. A year ago, I would've taken Djokovic versus the field here, but a year later, he hasn't played as well as 2021. He is still the best player in the world on grass, but this is not a sure thing by any means.
Nadal is coming off an incredible run at the French and is halfway to the calendar Slam. If he gets through the first week, Nadal is definitely in play," Gilbert said. Heading to the 2022 Wimbledon Championships, Rafael Nadal talked about how he felt uncomfortable about not playing arch-rival Roger Federer at the US Open.
Recalling the rivalry, the Spaniard said, “We shared a lot of important things together. I think all the things that we achieved is difficult to think of”. Answering further, he ended by saying, “…Not in New York. That’s all the things that bother me a little bit. That we never played in New York”.