Rafael Nadal is on the hunt for his 21st Grand Slam career. If he were to triumph at the Australian Open, Spanish champions would overtake Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the all-time Majors standings. The former world No. 1 won only once in Melbourne in 2009, but he is determined to sell his skin dearly.
The 35-year-old from Manacor is back from a very complicated 2021, which saw him dealing with a serious foot injury. Rafa played just seven official tournaments last year, yet managed to score a few trophies on his beloved clay court.
The Mallorcan failed to attack his 14th Roland Garros and lost to Djokovic in the semifinals. Foot pain forced him to give up Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics and the US Open. Nadal has put in a convincing performance with the AOs so far.
Denis Shapovalov awaits him in the quarterfinals, which surprisingly knocked out Alexander Zverev. In a recent interview with L’Equipe, former Roland Garros director Guy Forget analyzed the progress of the 20-time Grand Slam champion.
Guy Forget opens on Nadal
“Rafael Nadal, and this is where he impresses me, today is able to play absolutely all tennis strokes: he takes the ball early, he takes the ball late; he drops a shot, serves and volleys you when you least expect it, etc.
Previously, against right-handers, he played his backhand down the line quite often, only to fall on the opponent’s backhand and then let the ball bounce back on his forehand. Once it really was the schedule that suited him best, but now he can swing plums in the backhand diagonally.
He’s very, very good, his crossed backhand,” emphasized Guy Forget. From the start of the tournament, fans and pundits expected a match in the quarterfinals of Nadal-Zverev. When Nadal was asked during his post-match interview if he was surprised to see Denis beat Zverev, the Spaniard shared his thoughts on the whole game.
“Surprised by Zverev? Not so much. He was a bit of a favorite probably because of his ranking, but was not a clear favorite. I don’t know if Sascha played well or not. Surprise? Very few. Honestly, no, it wasn’t a clear match at all.”
For Alexander Zverev to witness success in majors, it is imperative that he put in an impressive performance against his peers and give himself a better chance of beating Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. With Zverev’s departure, Nadal now faces Denis Shapovalov in the last eight at the Australian Open.