After winning his 20th Slam at the Roland Garros last year, Rafael Nadal imagined that 2021 would be a good year to overtake eternal rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the all-time Grand Slam rankings.
This season proved to be quite disappointing for the Spanish champion, limited by a series of physical problems. A back injury prevented him from appearing in the best conditions at the Australian Open, where he was beaten by Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The former world number 1 returned to his beloved clay court, with Roland Garros as the main target in the background. His crushed brick campaign has gone on file with a couple of trophies (Barcelona and Rome), but with the feeling of no longer having the invincible player of yesteryear in front of him.
Uncle Toni is optimistic about Rafa Nadal
This impression was then confirmed in Paris, the tournament that more than any other forged its legend. Stopped by foot pain, the 35-year-old Majorcan surrendered to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. Rafa tried a timid return to Washington in the summer, but immediately realized he had to raise the white flag. Speaking in the latest edition of the Tres Iguales podcast, his uncle Toni took stock of the situation.
Toni said: “Rafael Nadal’s career was unfortunately affected by injuries, which makes his triumphs even more special. I am convinced that he will make it too this time. I do not hide my optimism and I have the feeling that 2022 will be an excellent year for Rafa. I think he still has two or three years left at an excellent level, even if with the passage of time everything becomes more complicated.”
Toni also expressed himself on the potential of the Next Gen: “When they play at 100%, their level is not too far from that of the Big 3. The problem arises when they are not at the top. While the Big 3 find the solution to get by, the Next Gen end up collapsing.”