20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has fallen short of achieving a double career Grand Slam as the Australian Open has evaded him for the second time after he won his first-ever title at the 2009 Australian Open. The Spaniard reached 4 more finals since then but had to settle up for the runners-up trophy, losing twice to Novak Djokovic and once each to Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka.
Nadal will make his 17th appearance at Melbourne Park this year when he will play in the second tournament of the season after having won the tour title at Melbourne this year to kick start his campaign with a title. In Federer’s absence and a troubled Djokovic participating who might still be disqualified, Nadal will surely be one of the favourites to win the title.
Rafa will start the season against American Marcos Giron and will most probably take on local lad Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round with Thanasi set to start against a qualifier. The first big test for Rafa will come in the 3rd round when he will take on Russian Karen Khachanov. Khachanov has shown some great fights since the last season and could be a big threat for Rafa as well.
If Nadal moves past the Russian, he will take on World No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz who has been sensational on hardcourts and will pose a big threat to Nadal on his way to the title. The only benefit Nadal will have is his athleticism and experience to take the match deep and force Hubert into making mistakes.
Rafael Nadal can potentially clash with Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals
Nadal is most likely to meet World No. 3 Alexander Zverev who is also a heavy favourite for the title after his heroics in the last season where he finished as the most successful player in terms of titles won across both the WTA and ATP Tours. Battling Zverev will be a real task for Nadal as most exits for Nadal have happened in the quarter-finals of the Slam.
In the semi-finals, the favourite for the clash against Nadal will be Djokovic as the Serbian is seeded 1st and similar to Nadal chasing a historic 21st career Grand Slam title. The clash against Djokovic could well be the title decider as it would supremely boost Nadal’s confidence and chances for the Slam.
In the finals, Nadal is most likely to clash with either 2021 runner-up and World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev who has been seeded 2nd or against 4th seeded and World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas who is yet to reach the finals of the Grand Slam but made it to the semi-finals last year.
Rafael Nadal’s path to the 2022 Australian Open title (based on the seedings):
- R1 Marcos Giron
- R2 Thanasi Kokkinakis
- R3 Karen Khachanov
- R4 Hubert Hurkacz
- QF Alexander Zverev
- SF Novak Djokovic
- F Daniil Medvedev/ Stefanos Tsitsipas