With Rafael Nadal winning the 2022 Australian Open, the Spaniard is now the only man on the planet to have won 21 Grand Slam titles. Nadal was tied in a three-way race with close rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic on 20 Slams each. While the other two players lost one final each that kept them on 20, Nadal did not mess up the situation and won his 21st in the first opportunity.
With Rafa returning to Grand Slam action for the first time since his semi-final exit at the 2021 French Open when he injured his foot and could play only twice more in the season, many doubted whether Nadal would be able to sustain in the best-of-5 tournament. Given Nadal had won the Australian Open only once (2009), his track record of 4 runner-up finishes since then also increased the doubts.
The Spaniard however smashed all those and went on to win the major eventually. Darren Cahill, former coach of 2-time Grand Slam champion and former World No. 1 Simona Halep, recently spoke about whether the win of Nadal could motivate Federer into making a successful comeback after the Swiss had to undergo yet another surgery after Wimbledon 2021 that have ruled him out till at least April 2022.
“I also think that what Nadal did could impact Federer’s tank in some way, it’s possible it could give him some fuel. Roger might say to himself: ‘If Rafa keeps doing this, why can’t I do it if I’m healthy?’ The love of the game pushes him to continue, it is what made these three players great.
“That’s what gave Rafa a lot of energy, that’s what allows him to always be standing on the pitch, pushing and pushing. This is where you have to be, you never know what can happen,” said Cahill during his recent interview with New York Times where he also talked about Djokovic’s mentality going into the season ahead.
Rafael Nadal to return later this month, Roger Federer yet to make a decision
Federer recently talked about his recovery and indicated that he might make a return to action in May 2022 but only upon the doctor’s advice. With clay a difficult surface to play on for a person returning from a knee injury, the Swiss Maestro might just skip the entire Clay season and return on his strong fort of Grass courts with the 2022 Wimbledon his goal.
As for Nadal, he will return to action later this month at the 2022 Acapulco Open, an ATP-500 tournament that will begin on 21st February 2022 in Mexico. While he has committed to play, Nadal might have a change in plan as per his fitness as he aims to remain fit for the ATP-1000 Masters tournaments in March and then the Clay season.