Rafael Nadal’s biggest enemy? Former Major champion shares his thoughts


For Mats Wilander, Rafael Nadal will struggle the most with his movement after his most recent injury. The Swede praised the Spaniard and his desire always to bounce back and play competitive tennis. However, when Nadal returns from his hip injury, Wilander is not sure that would be the case, especially after lacking practice sessions and more time spent on the court. Rafa has been dealing with several severe injuries in the previous 12 months and will leave the top-10 for the first time since April 2005! Nadal claimed the season’s opening two Majors in 2022 before experiencing an abdominal injury at Wimbledon.

Mats Wilander spoke about Rafael Nadal and his comeback.

The Spaniard withdrew ahead of the semi-final and played only nine matches by the end of the season, suffering four straight losses for the first time since 2009. Instead of a fresh start in 2023, Rafa lost both matches at the United Cup and injured his left hip in the Australian Open second round versus Mackenzie McDonald. Nadal skipped Doha, Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami, embracing a recovery trail and hoping to compete again in Monte Carlo or Barcelona. Nadal’s comeback event will be his first as a player ranked outside the top-10 in almost 18 years, with a chance to face rivals from the top in the early rounds.

“The game is moving in a direction that is becoming faster and faster. Rafa Nadal has been changing his game as much as he can. However, you still have to get to the ball in time to make all these changes, hit the slice backhand, and come to the net a bit more. Rafa will only get slower in the future because of his age and the lack of practice. He continuously improves how he hits the ball but will struggle with the physical part. Rafa will reach the limit of how much you can do with a tennis ball without moving close to your 100%. That’s his biggest enemy. At the same time, Rafa always comes up with new solutions. Mentally, he is the strongest player ever. Tactically, Rafa is more clever than in the past, as he had to become that to remain at the top. He knows how to overcome injuries, but his age brings a question mark. Another issue may come in the early stages of Majors and Masters 1000 events, as he can face the top seeds in the third round. It should be interesting to see him as a lower-ranked player and a dark horse against the rivals like Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz,” Mats Wilander said.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login