Tim Henman has high expectations from Rafael Nadal at the Rolland Garros as he will make his highly anticipated return next year.
Rafael Nadal was out of action for the entire season of 2023 after suffering an injury at the Australian Open in January. He made a second-round exit after losing to McKenzie McDonald in straight sets. Though he fought hard to make a return fate had some other plans for him.
He has finally recovered after undergoing surgery in June and has recently announced his return to the sport. He has been training and preparing well as can be seen from the clips shared by his Academy’s Instagram handle.
The Brisbane International will be his first tournament and will also act as a warm-up to the upcoming Australian Open in January.
Nadal is a 22-time Grand Slam winner but there is no doubt that he is the greatest player on clay having won the French Open 14 times. Tim Henman considers him the favorite to win the Title this year as well.
“I think when you put Rafa Nadal and Roland Garros in the same sentence, Rafa is just the favourite. If he was playing paddle tennis and you said,’Oh, where is it?’ They’d say it’s at Roland Garros and you would say Rafa’s the favourite.”-Tim Henman in an interview
Henman feels that the five-set format that the Grand Slams offers the Spaniard an advantage over others.
“You could make a case for the Grand Slams with the best of five. He’s so difficult to beat on clay, first and foremost. But, then when you’ve got to win three sets, not just two sets, so few people have been able to do it.”-Tim Henman in an interview
He also stated that the Paris Olympics which is scheduled to be held in 2024 will offer a three-set format and feels that it will help Nadal, who is making his return from injury. He is very hopeful of a good run this year at the Roland Garros as well considering his win-loss record of 112-3 at the tournament.
“You wonder whether in the Olympics because it’s best of three, then it takes a bit less out of him, whether that aids his recovery. But look, with his record, and I’m sure the confidence that he gains when he walks through the gates at Roland Garros, he’s going to want to be at the Grand Slam and at the Olympics, and I’d love to see him win one of those or both of them. It would be an incredible story.”-Tim Henman in an interview
Boris Becker criticises Rafael Nadal ahead of his return
Rafael Nadal last played at the 2023 Australian Open. The 37-year-old Spaniard is set to make his comeback after undergoing surgery at the Brisbane International.
Former Major winner and Holger Rune’s coach Boris Becker said in an interview that Nadal has to ‘suffer’ in the early matches of his return. He feels that Rafael Nadal needs some match practice early on to gain match fitness.
“But, he has to play first: he will only gain match fitness and match practice by playing in matches….he has to suffer a little so that he gets better in March, April, until he can play his best game in May.”-Boris Becker in an interview