Rafael Nadal Australian Open 2022

‘He is always one of the favourites’ – Boris Becker backs Rafael Nadal at Australian Open

Boris Becker backs Rafael Nadal at the upcoming Australian Open and feels that “as long as he is playing and gets chances, he is never a dark horse.”

20-time Grand Slam champion Nadal was forced to miss the latter half of last season when he sustained a foot injury in August.

Despite a five month injury lay-off and contracting Covid-19 in December, Nadal has returned in excellent form by winning the Melbourne Summer Set in preparation for the Australian Open.

This win means Nadal is the first male player in the Open Era to win a title in 19 different seasons, surpassing Roger Federer’s and Andre Agassi’s record of 18.

All three of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Nadal all boast a historic 20 Grand Slam titles each, but Nadal may be the only one of the ‘Big Three’ to compete for the first Slam of the season.

Swiss Maestro Federer is still recovering from knee surgery and could make a return at Wimbledon, whilst current World number one Djokovic has just had his visa cancelled for the second time.

Djokovic is unvaccinated against Covid-19 and filed for a medical exemption to compete. Whilst it was initially granted, it was terminated by Border Force upon his arrival.

He had been cleared by the courts to play, but Immigration Minister Alex Hawke took the executive decision to cancel his visa once more.

As such, should Nadal win the ‘Happy Slam’ he would overtake Djokovic and Federer in the race to become the most successful male player of all time.

Speaking on Eurosport Germany’s Das Gelbe Vom Ball podcast, six-time Slam ace and Germany’s greatest male player Becker said “as long asĀ Rafael Nadal plays tennis and gets the chance, he is never a dark horse for me, but always one of the tournament favourites.

“I think that in theĀ back of his mind he just wants to win [the French Open] again. But he has to play tournaments first, preferably a Grand Slam.

“He has no pressure, nobody expects anything from him.

“The preparation was bad because of his Corona illness [but] I don’t know anyone in the main draw who would like to play Nadal in the first or second round.

“That is his nimbus – he is one of the ultimate superstars.

“And again, he can also getĀ [his 21st career win at a Grand Slam tournament]. I think that’s another reason why he’s playing in Melbourne.

“These top stars who have won so much, they wouldn’t be playing if they didn’t think they had a chance.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.