Rafael Nadal has wowed fans a myriad of times throughout his long career. The Spanish phenomenon won two Grand Slams in 2022, reiterating that he is a living legend of the sport. The former world number 1 was not as brilliant in the second half of last season, also due to some injuries.
The 36-year-old from Manacor has lost six of the last seven matches played on the circuit, including the first two games played in 2023. The 22-time Grand Slam champion was defeated by Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur in the inaugural edition of the United Cup, staged last week in several Australian cities.
Rafa arrived in Melbourne well in advance and has been training hard these days. The Majorcan will do everything to defend the title won last year at the Australian Open, but it won't be easy to keep Novak Djokovic's ambitions at bay.
The Serbian will start under the thumbs, having won 'Down Under' nine times. Interviewed by the Spanish media less than a week after the start of the AOs, Nadal expressed his feelings.
Nadal believes that he is in good shape
“It’s true that the last couple of tournaments I wasn’t able to play to my standards and here at the beginning of the season I lost two matches in Sydney, but honestly, I am not unhappy with the preparation,” Rafael Nadal said.
"I think I’m in good shape. You need to demonstrate that in matches … but I’m confident that if I am able to have this last week of positive practice, why not?” he added. Seven-time Grand Slam champion John McEnroe revealed that Rafael Nadal's rivalry with Novak Djokovic has pushed their respective games to new heights.
"He’s forced Novak to give more, and he’s better because of it, and then Novak has helped Rafa get better because he doesn’t want Novak to go by him, and that helped Roger, so this was a beautiful thing to watch for the last 10, 15 years," told the American to Eurosport.
"The greatest single quality an athlete can have is that hunger, and no matter how successful you are, just being willing to do the hard yards and the work it requires to even give yourself a chance, and Rafa does that better than anyone.
You do believe with him that he’ll do anything and everything to get back and give himself that chance, and there are very few players you can say that about, that’s why there's so much respect for Rafa," he added.