Like a year ago, Rafael Nadal could be in a better position ahead of the Australian Open. The Spaniard produced a miracle in Melbourne 12 months ago to clinch his 21st Major title and write history books. Rafa is the top seed at the next week’s Australian Open, entering the season’s first Major with only 11 matches in his legs after the last year’s Wimbledon. The legend lost seven of those duels, struggling to find the form and enter the winning circle again. Alexander Zverev made a bold prediction ahead of the Australian Open, suggesting Nadal will end his career at the upcoming Roland Garros in June. Rafa will turn 37 during his favorite Major, and he is still among the world’s best players, finishing the previous season in the top-2. Nadal often said he wants to extend his career even after becoming a father in October last year, feeling eager and passionate to compete for a couple more years.
Rafael Nadal has been on the Tour for over 20 years.
After massive problems in 2021, Rafa claimed the Australian Open and Roland Garros for the first time in his career last year. Thus, he extended his tally to 22 Major titles and left Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer behind. Rafa was the year-end no. 1 favorite ahead of the second part of the season, but it was not to be for him. The veteran reached the Wimbledon semi-final, seeking his first All England Club trophy since 2010. However, he experienced a seven-millimeter abdominal tear and withdrew following an epic quarter-final victory over Taylor Fritz in five sets. Rafa would play only nine matches in the rest of the season, losing a chance to become world no. 1 and barely finishing inside the top-2 ahead of Casper Ruud.
Nadal lost to Borna Coric in Cincinnati before reaching the US Open fourth round. An abdominal injury was back to bother him, and he fell to Frances Tiafoe in four sets in New York, spoiling his no. 1 chances. Rafa stayed away from the court for two months, eager to recover and play injury-free. The Spaniard returned at the Paris Masters and the ATP Finals and experienced four consecutive losses for the first time in 13 years! Rafa wrapped up the year with a triumph over Casper Ruud and wished for more at the start of 2023. Nadal led Spain at the inaugural United Cup in Sydney and experienced losses against Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur, both from a set up! Rafa arrived in Melbourne early, with enough time to practice at Rod Laver Arena and shape up his game ahead of the season’s first Major.