Rafael Nadal Australian Open 2021

‘Your body is not used to it’ – Analyst concerned over Rafael Nadal’s fitness upon injury return

Alex Corretja has concerns surrounding the fitness of Rafael Nadal as he makes a return after a lengthy injury lay-off, feeling “he must find a good rhythm.”

20-time Grand Slam champion Nadal missed the latter half of the 2021 season when a foot injury resurfaced at the Citi Open in August.

After a five-month lay-off, Nadal will make a long-awaited return at the Abu Dhabi Exhibition during the off-season. Nadal will face the victor of three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray and 2020 US Open winner Dominic Thiem.

Former World number two Corretja told Eurosport “what worries me the most about Rafa’s [Nadal’s] recovery are his movements. His mobility on the court, his intensity, the way he is going to move.

“When he moves well and is well supported to hit his backhand and arrives perfectly to play with his parallel forehand and dominate, Rafa is almost impossible to beat. The problem is how he gets to that ball so he can be well supported and hit well.

“That extra half second that he needs today is what worries me the most. The rest, I think it’s a matter of time before he picks up some rhythm.

“He is going to get to the Australian Open and, when you have not competed for so long, these players are so good that they win many matches, but your body is not used to it and you get other pains.

“Rafa is already good enough for the first week of the Grand Slam to serve as a preparation. His level of tennis and his physique require that during the first week of a Grand Slam, he must find a good rhythm.”

Corretja would prefer Nadal to face Murray at the Mubadala exhibition as he thinks the Brit would provide better preparation than Thiem.

“I think it would be nice to see him [play Andy Murray], because he is a very smart player who knows perfectly how to play against Rafa. I think playing with Andy can give him a necessary rhythm to play two-and-a-half hours in a very tough match, but at a pace that he likes.

“With Thiem it might be too explosive. Andy is different, he plays fast, he plays defensively, on offence … it’s a very good test to see where Rafa is.”

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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.