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Susurrations pick up on Nadal’s return; Djokovic and others should be worried | Tennis News

By admin Dec29,2023

What are the odds that Rafael Nadal wins at least two grand slams next year? Of course, we add to the picture he doesn’t suffer another major injury.

Spain’s Rafael Nadal attends a training session ahead of the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane on December 28, 2023(AFP)

Having in mind what the 37-year-old Spaniard has achieved during his previous comebacks from injury, there won’t be many who will bet against Nadal taking his tally to 24 grand slams at least in 2024.

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Injuries have been part and parcel of Nadal’s professional career right from an early age going back to his teenage years in the early noughties. Later in 2015 and 2016 when he, plagued by one injury or another, failed to reach the semis of any of the four grand slams, for many it was a matter of time before he totally vanished from the competitive tennis scene.

2015 was the first year since 2005 that he had not won a grand slam and 2016 was the first year since 2004 that he had even no quarter-final appearance to speak of. But he has proved the naysayers wrong and gone on to win 8 more grand slams since. Upon his return in 2017, he won in Paris and New York and earlier lost the final in Melbourne.

2018 was another injury-hit year but he managed to continue his dominance in Paris. 2019 was similar to 2017 as he won in Paris and New York and suffered a defeat in the final in Melbourne. The next couple of years panned out in pretty much similar fashion in terms of his picking up injuries. But his resilience eventually prevailed like so many times before.

The year 2022 saw him overtake Roger Federer as the man with the most grand slams. It happened at the Australian Open. The French Open triumph came along the way later in the year as usual. It wasn’t an injury-free year by any means. He had to pull out of his Wimbledon semi-final because of an abdominal strain.

Next week Nadal is returning to the game at the Brisbane International after almost a gap of one year. Earlier this year in January during his second-round match against Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open, he injured his hip. He lost the match and exited the tournament. A few months later he underwent surgery. The McDonald match appeared to be his last match of the year until he confirmed a few weeks back he was staging a comeback at the Brisbane International, which is an excellent warm-up opportunity ahead of the 2024 Australian Open which kicks off on January 14.

To date, Nadal has missed 14 Grand Slams and withdrew during five others. This is Nadal’s longest absence from tennis during his 22-year professional career which suggests two things. First, it was a very serious injury. Second, if things go wrong again, there may not be another comeback, so he took his time to recover. There was no attempt at rushing his comeback. Novak Djokovic’s comments on Wednesday kind of lead one to that conclusion. He knows what to expect from his biggest rival at present. “…He’s not a kind of a player that will come back to the tour just to play — let’s say — on a medium level, play a few matches… I’m sure that his training and preparation is done with an intention to win a Grand Slam, ” the Serb said.

Fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz kind of too rang the alarm bell for rivals. “…I hear from other players that they practised with Rafa in these past weeks and they said that he’s going to return to his good level. His top level.”

They may have a lot of respect for each other on the tennis court but Djokovic and Nadal are not exactly friends. Djokovic has often taken a dig at Nadal who has responded in kind more often than not. If Djokovic believes Nadal is coming all prepared and completely injury-free, it’s good news for the tennis world. Whispers abound as to how Nadal’s return can’t be very good news for Djokovic who — since Nadal’s injury in January 2023 — has become the man with most grand slams.

By admin

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