Mats Wilander seems to have high hopes for the Spaniard Rafael Nadal, especially after his domination at the French Open just a few days ago. Rafael Nadal has blown everyone’s mind with his tennis on clay, burning through match after match without dropping a single set, using his abnormal muscular power and movement to generate almost uncontrollable amounts of topspin.
It has definitely been an experience to watch Nadal the past two weeks, although it would have definitely been more riveting if we had seen other strong contenders rise up to the challenge, or at least rise up to a decent level. With Murray and Djokovic both in a slump and Roger Federer resting so that he could get ready for grass season, Nadal’s path to victory was clear and simple. The only challenge that he was expecting was Wawrinka, who was never able to find his rhythm in the finals and practically gave the match away on a silver platter.
After this performance at Roland Garros, tennis pundits everywhere have been singing Nadal’s praises, shouting about that Nadal’s era is once again upon us, and that he will soon overtake Roger Federer in the Grand Slam count, and eventually take over the position of GOAT, the spot that once solely belonged to the maestro.
In fact, Mats Wilander has made his confidence in the 10 time French Open champion quiet clear.
Now, if we think about this statement logically, it means that for Nadal to have 18 Grand Slams by this time next year, he needs to win 3 out of 4 of the next Grand Slams played. This means that Nadal is going to have to be able to show the same dominance he has had at the French on the harder and faster surfaces at the US and the Australian Open. That may be a little tough for Nadal, considering his age and the way his game is made. Yes, Nadal is younger than Roger, and if Roger can still win on the fast surfaces then why can’t Nadal?
The reason is that the playing styles are completely different. Why Roger thrives on short points, Nadal is prone to long rallies, and hard courts that is going to wear down his already fragile knees, knees that several years of bashing and running on hard courts has already made extremely injury prone.
Wilander’s statement also forgets to take into account the up and coming players, the current dominating players, and that one old annoying veteran who refuses to leave the tour, or lose easily for that matter. In order I mean Zverev and Thiem, Murray and Djokovic, and good old Roger Federer. Roger should in no way be counted out of the run at Wimbledon, the US Open, or the Australian Open, especially considering the way he just won the Australian Open earlier this year.
If we look at things rationally, for Nadal to keep up this level on the faster surfaces where he will not only be more injury prone, but his topspin won’t be as effective, and it will be easier for his opponents to hit winners, Mats Wilander’s statement might just be that, a simple statement, void of truth or substance.