Nobody expected such a start to the season from Rafael Nadal. Fresh from a long stop due to injury, the former world number 1 won the first 15 games played in 2022. The Spanish champion won the Melbourne ATP, the Australian Open and the Acapulco tournament, leaving everyone to mouth open.
Imposing himself for the second time in his career at Melbourne Park, the 35-year-old from Manacor has hoisted himself to 21 Majors, beating Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the all-time rankings. Rafa also became the fourth man in history to have won all Grand Slams at least twice (along with Djokovic, Rod Laver and Roy Emerson).
The Majorcan will try to reach 22 already at Roland Garros, waiting to understand whether or not Nole will be present in Paris (the imminent abolition of the Green Pass in France should give him the green light). During a recent interview with MARCA, Ilie Nastase addressed the eternal question relating to the GOAT.
Nastase on the GOAT debate
"It is clear that if the question is who has more great titles, the answer is Rafael Nadal," Nastase told MARCA. "If we talk about the best ever there are other factors. Roger Federer has impressive talent...But there is no doubt that Rafa has 21 Grand Slams and Federer and Djokovic have not."
Nastase further spoke about Federer and Djokovic's chances of adding to their tally. The Romanian said that Federer's chances are diminishing, but that the Swiss should never be counted out. "He is playing very little lately, but he will always have a chance if he continues to play and reaches a final," Nastase said.
"From the moment that everyone has been vaccinated except him, he has a problem," he said. "Although I am not going to be the one to judge him because he does not compete with me." Many players have spoken about the issue and provided their support by, at times, talking about it in their post-match interviewers or writing about it on the camera glass.
Recently, Ukrainian WTA player Elina Svitolina has declared that she will not be playing any matches against a Russian player. Djokovic himself was born in a war-torn Serbia and is quite familiar with living life amidst political unrest.
He also, however, has been going through some difficulties in a professional capacity. He recently lost his No. 1 ranking and lost in the quarterfinals to Jiri Vesely at the Dubai Tennis Championships. He has failed to get permission to travel to any of the tournaments in the US swing because of the USA’s vaccine mandate.