As the time for this season’s 1st Grand Slam draws near, the historical importance of the Australian Open 2020 also becomes a crucial part of the discussions. One man would specially be looking to make more history at Melbourne Park this January-February. Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal has a lot on line once he finishes the ATP cup and begins his quest for the elusive 2nd Australian Open trophy.
Equaling Federer’s Grand Slam Haul
Rafa won 2 slams in 2019 while Roger Federer was unable to take further his slam count from 20. In New York last summer Rafa by winning his 19th Grand Slam reached closer to his archrival’s count than he has ever been. Rafa’s performance in the last 12 Grand Slams since he hired Carlos Moya has also been great. The Spaniard has won 5 slams and played 2 finals besides 3 semi-finals. This would bring encouraging signs for the man from Mallorca to raise his slam tally once the Australian Open starts.
Nadal being the World Number 1 and the top seed would be expected to has a favorable draw towards the later stages. His hard court performance has also been great as he lost only 1 hard court match since July 2019. With a renovated serve and adaptation to faster courts Rafa looks closer than ever to succeed in the Australian Open this February.
A Double Career Grand Slam
Nadal won the Australian Open last time in 2009. That was the first time he reached the final in Melbourne, rather it was the first ever hard court major final of Nadal’s career. That day he would down Roger Federer in a 5 set epic and win his 1st hard court Grand Slam. It appeared that Nadal was the man for all surfaces and would have many more successful triumphs in Australia.
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Since then however the road to the Australian Open trophy has been full of expectations and upsets for the World Number 1. Rafa made to the final again in 2012 against an inspired Novak Djokovic. Nadal would break in the 5th set and looked well placed towards the title. But the break, set and match was surrendered and Rafa lost what was the longest Grand Slam final in history.
In 2014 Nadal again made to the final but a combination of his own injury and Stan Wawrinka’s lethal hitting meant that the Spaniard finished on the losing side. In 2017 Nadal lost another epic final again after leading in the final set. This time his opponent was the long time rival Roger Federer. History would repeat itself again in 2019 when Nadal who had not lost a set en route to the final was cleaned up by Novak Djokovic in 3 straight sets.
Health And Age Not On Nadal’s Side
Rafa is more the 33 years of age now. The physically intense style of the play means that the Spaniard often encounters unwarranted injury problems. These issues have surface frequently in last 3 years also. However 2019 Nadal looked healthy till the season end and helped win the Davis Cup for Spain as well as the Mubadala title in Abu Dhabi.
Nadal is now a part of the Spanish side aiming to win the ATP cup. These are encouraging signs in both the areas of form and fitness for the Spanish great. In 2020 Australian Open it could be now or never for Rafael Nadal for a so elusive double career slam and cementing his argument in the GOAT debate.