'We all know that Rafael Nadal has the ability', says former star
by SIMONE BRUGNOLI | VIEW 2431
Although he is the defending champion, there are many doubts about Rafael Nadal's actual condition on the eve of the AOs. The Spanish phenomenon has become the number 1 in the seeding due to the forfeit of Carlos Alcaraz, forced to miss the first Grand Slam of the season due to a leg injury.
The former world number 1 left everyone speechless in early 2022, winning the Australian Open and Roland Garros despite the pain in his foot. The second part of last season didn't give him the same joys, also because of the tear in his abs he suffered at Wimbledon.
The 36-year-old from Manacor was unable to play the semifinal of the Championships against Nick Kyrgios and arrived at the US Open in non-optimal conditions, already leaving the scene in the round of 16 at the hands of Frances Tiafoe.
Rafa has lost six of his last seven matches on the circuit, including the two matches played in the new year. The 22-time Grand Slam champion was in fact defeated by Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur at the United Cup, but said he was confident ahead of the Australian Open.
Speaking to the Tennis Channel microphones, Lindsay Davenport invited fans and insiders not to underestimate Nadal.
Davenport on Rafa Nadal
"I think that Rafael Nadal needs a good first week to really give him that kind of extra push and confidence to get through the second week," Davenport said in a recent interview with Tennis Channel.
"We all know he can do it, right? We all know that he has the ability. Looks like physically he's doing better, doesn't have the ab issue. Hopefully that stays away. His foot seems to be okay," the 3-time Grand Slam singles champion continued.
"I think he needs a couple of matches where he plays really well early on in Melbourne, doesn't get too fatigued out there, doesn't get injured, gets that confidence up. If he's able to enter the second week with that kind of belief, then look out.
Everybody knows that." 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.