Mats Wilander thinks Rafael Nadal's movement on the court is going to be the Spaniard's "biggest enemy" in the final years of the 22-time Grand Slam champion's career. Nadal, 36, has been struggling with numerous injuries over the last few years.
After struggling with foot, rib and abdominal injuries in 2022, Nadal suffered a hip injury at the start of the 2023 season in Australia. Nadal, who has withdrawn from the Masters events in Indian Wells and Miami, is targeting to return during the clay season.
Wilander acknowledged Nadal is great when it comes to adapting to certain situations but noted that the Spaniard will not be able to do all the things unless he is able to move around the court close to 100%.
Wilander identifies Nadal's 'biggest enemy'
“The game is moving in a direction that is becoming faster and faster all the time.
And I think you see with Rafa Nadal that he's been changing his game as much as he can, but you still have to be able to get to the ball in time to make all these changes, to hit the slice backhand, to come to the net a little bit more.
He's going to obviously become slower and slower because of age, but also if you can't practise all the time, you do lose some speed. I think the last thing that would ever go away from Rafael Nadal's game is his actual game.
I think hitting the ball, he's getting better, he's getting more creative. But in terms of the physical part of moving, I think, yes, he's going to get slower because he's not able to train as much all the time and he's getting older.
So there comes a point when there's a limit to how much you can do with a tennis ball without being able to move around at close to 100%. And I think that's going to be his biggest enemy," Wilander told Eurosport’s Arnold Montgault. The hope is that Nadal will be able to return to action at the Monte Carlo Masters, which starts on April 9th.