Has Rafael Nadal lost his intimidating aura?

Rafael Nadal in action

Former World No 1 Jim Courier believes that the mystique surrounding Rafael Nadal has faded in 2022.

Courier feels that the intimidating aura that Nadal created around himself has now vanished.

He feels that losses to up-and-coming players have left Nadal vulnerable.

Courier said: “Everyone knows it.

“Everyone’s talking about how they feel they have a chance now, and they did not feel that way before. He needs to resurrect a little bit of that for the locker room fear factor for Australia. That’s why this match matters to Rafa.”

“He needs momentum towards next season. He wants to build a little bit of that aura back,” added Courier.

Nadal crashed out of the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin after losing in his opening two matches.

His uncle Toni is also in Turin with his charge Felix Auger-Aliassime and feels that the victory that the 22-time Grand Slam winner got over Casper Ruud will be a jumping off point for Nadal.

“It was good,” he said. “For my nephew, this was an important match because I knew that when Rafa came here, he came with not enough proper preparation.

“It is very difficult. When you arrive at a Grand Slam it is not the same problem because you have had a few matches. If he can pass the first week then in the second week he can win the tournament.

“But here it is not the same because in the first match you play against one of the best players in the world, and then it is too difficult.

“When he arrived at the Australian Open, for example, he did not play too good in the first game, the second not too good, in the third the same, then better and better.

“This is what he did there, but this is impossible here.”

Nadal has made it clear that he will not be available for the Davis Cup team for Spain.

“If I am representing my country, I need to do it with the full passion and full confidence and full spirit as I did in 2019 in Madrid. I don’t think this year I am able to be at that level of everything,” he said.

“Then let’s see if I am able to play again the Davis Cup one day. I am not sure about it, but of course in my mind I will love to say goodbye to that beautiful competition.

“As everybody knows, I am getting old (smiling). Even if I would like to be everywhere, I can’t, I simply cannot.”

READ MORE: Rafael Nadal has his say on Novak Djokovic’s return to Australian Open – ‘That’s the best news possible’