Tennis legend Rafael Nadal will be looking to create history in the upcoming Australian Open. Nadal has 20 major championships under his belt and he will be looking to leapfrog Roger Federer’s tally. As Federer has already withdrawn from the first slam of the year, the World No.1 Novak Djokovic will be a potential threat for the Spaniard.
Former player and current Tennis coach Paul Annacone believes Nadal has a good chance of winning the Australian Open if he doesn’t face Novak Djokovic throughout the tournament. Paul stated that he won’t be backing Nadal if he is up against Djokovic but feels the 34-year old can go all the way if he doesn’t face the defending champion.
Djokovic has defeated Nadal in two Australian Open finals in 2012 and 2019. In fact, Nadal hasn’t been able to cross the final hurdle on four occasions in the last decade.
“I think very simply, Rafa is just a little bit worse on hardcourt than Novak in particular and Roger as well on a faster hardcourt. But everyone else I’d put him ahead of. If he plays Novak at the end of the tournament, I’m not betting on him. But if he plays anyone else, I’ll bet on him. I think the biggest thing for Nadal is to get through the first week relatively comfortably,” said Annacone while talking with Lindsay Davenport on Tennis Channel.
Meanwhile, the former American player, who has coached the likes of Roger Federer and Pete Sampras, believes the lack of match practice is the reason why Nadal hasn’t savoured great success at the Australian Open.
Nadal has won only one Australian Open in his glorious career whereas he has won four US Open titles. Both of these slams take place on hard courts but Annacone feels Nadal isn’t very successful at the Australian Open as it is the first tournament of the season and he doesn’t get enough match practice before the competition.
“This is one of those questions right, why hasn’t he won more there? Four US Open, it’s hardcourt down in Australia as well. So when he starts the year in Australia, he’s coming off a long break, he gets a couple of matches, maybe the ATP Cup, here and there but by the time the US Open comes around, he’s got a little bit of break after Wimbledon. He’s played three Majors already, so that works well for him,” remarked Annacone.
Nadal will represent Spain in the ATP Cup, which will take place just before the Australian Open and it should be a good way for the left-hander to prepare for the major tournament. The AO will begin from February 8.