Rafael Nadal told he will ‘not be a contender’ for Slams in 2024
Rafael Nadal will not be a serious contender for any Grand Slams in 2024, even Roland Garros, says former Serena Williams coach Rick Macci.
Nadal looks on track to return to tennis in January after a year out with a hip problem, with the Australian Open looking like a realistic target for him.
It is a tournament he has won before immediately after returning from injury, and he also played through a foot problem on the way to that title in 2022. He then did the same to win the French Open a few months later.
Macci, who has also coached Andy Roddick, Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova, is far from convinced Nadal has another achievement in him like that again, though.
“As far as Rafa coming back, as you get older, you lose a little mobility and people aren’t afraid when they know you’re vulnerable,” Macci told Tennis Infinity.
“There’s not that much difference between the guys at the top and then the next tier, and when they know they have a chance, that’s a whole different thing, even on clay.”
It is that mental head start that Nadal had before, especially on clay, that may have been eroded by his injury, according to Macci.
That said, there still won’t be many people hoping to play the Spaniard at Roland Garros.
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“Where before against Rafa, he’s 112-3 on clay [at Roland Garros], the match was over before it even started,” Macci explained.
“You knew you weren’t gonna beat the guy more than likely. So, that being said, I wish Rafa all the best, but he’s not at the exact same level he was before so I don’t think he’s a contender to win a Slam.
“I think he can be competitive and I think he’s a rough out for anybody on clay, but it depends on his health.”
Australian Open ‘certain’ Rafael Nadal will play
Rafael Nadal is notoriously cautious when it comes to his recovery from injury and the timescale he places on it.
It is incredibly unusual for the Spaniard to commit to anything too far ahead, and he is yet to confirm his schedule for 2024.
However, reports in Spain claim he will head to his academy in Kuwait to step up the intensity of his practice sessions in December and Australian Open chief Craig Tiley is ‘certain’ Nadal will be in the draw for Melbourne.
“Rafa has been training, I follow him closely, probably every day, because he’s a massive drawcard for us,” Tiley said. “He wants to play, he’s obviously planning on playing. It all depends on how he pulls up.
“Hopefully in the next week or the next two weeks, we get some specific confirmation of that. I’m certain Rafa will be here because he’s not going to want to miss the opportunity to repeat what he did a couple of years ago.”
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