The Australian Open once again proved quite hostile to Rafael Nadal, whose only success at Melbourne Park dates back twelve years. The former world number 1, who would have broken Roger Federer in the Grand Slam standings if he won, left the stage in the quarterfinals at the hands of Stefanos Tsitsipas.
After having won the first two sets without struggling too much, the Spanish phenomenon suffered a sudden physical decline that led him to suffer the comeback of the young Greek. The 13-time Roland Garros champion, struggling with a back injury for a few weeks, did not make any dramas at the press conference, being aware that he could reach 21 Majors in Paris in the spring.
In a recent interview with Tennis Head, German legend Boris Becker analyzed the sensational elimination of the 34-year-old Majorcan in the Happy Slam. The six-time Grand Slam champion believes this defeat could remain on the Iberian’s mind in the coming months as well.
Becker on Rafael Nadal
"Rafael Nadal's five-set defeat by Stefanos Tsitsipas will sting for some time, and could even be a factor at the French Open," Boris Becker said. According to the German, Rafael Nadal’s defeat exposed some chinks in the Spaniard’s armor that could be exploited at Roland Garros.
"There was definitely some vulnerability in Nadal if we think forward to Paris," Becker added. The German also pointed out that Nadal’s play style requires an immense amount of physical exertion, which could come back to haunt the Spaniard.
"For the first time I can recall Rafael Nadal looked really tired in that fifth set, he was beaten physically, and the others will have seen that," Becker said. "The Spaniard’s style is so physical that it is going to take a toll.
I am actually surprised that he has played to this incredibly high level for so long." Boris Becker acknowledged that it would be unwise to get against Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros given his impeccable record there.
But he followed that by sounding a word of caution about Nadal’s age, which he believes could be catching up to him. "While it would be foolish to bet against him for Paris, when he gets that little step slower he will not be the same player," Becker concluded.
In 2020, the French Open took place towards the end of the year (September-October) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But this year the clay-court Major is expected to be played in its usual slot - the end of May.