Stan Wawrinka sends Rafael Nadal ‘danger’ warning and makes French Open claim

Ewan West
Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal
Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal

Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka has warned that tennis great Rafael Nadal will be “a danger to everyone” and “a candidate for big titles” if he is healthy.

The former world No 3 believes Nadal will “always be one of the favourites wherever he goes” if he is fit and argued the Spaniard will be the French Open favourite for as long as he plays.

Wawrinka has faced Nadal 22 times and holds a 3-19 record against the 14-time Roland Garros winner, with the pair having played in the finals of the Australian Open and the French Open. The duo have not met since the 2019 Paris Masters, when Nadal prevailed.

Nadal played his first tournament in almost a year at the Brisbane International last month, where he reached the quarter-finals. Nadal withdrew from the 2024 Australian Open due to a hip muscle issue that surfaced during his loss to Jordan Thompson in Brisbane.

Prior to Brisbane, Nadal had not played a singles match since losing to Mackenzie McDonald in the second round of the 2023 Australian Open, where he sustained a hip injury. He underwent arthroscopic surgery to treat the psoas muscle in his hip in June 2023.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion hoped to make his return at the ATP 250 tournament in Doha this week, but he pulled out last week, saying he was “not ready to compete.”

The former world No 1 is next expected to feature at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Indian Wells next month, which will run from March 3-17.

READ MORE: Rafael Nadal gives big hint that he is ready to return to action after latest injury setback

In an interview with Marca ahead of his appearance at the Rio Open this week, Wawrinka spoke about Nadal’s willingness to keep playing despite his injury struggles.

“Rafa is a great champion and he has already been injured before and came back. It doesn’t matter what you have earned or how much money you have, if you feel that passion you want to continue,” the Swiss said.

“In Brisbane, he was playing at a high level before getting injured again. If he is healthy, he will be a danger to everyone and a candidate for big titles.

“If he is healthy, he will always be one of the favourites wherever he goes. He’s missing games. He has won so many times at Roland Garros that he will always be the favourite. There is no one who knows the tournament better.”

The 38-year-old was also asked about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in tennis and the recent announcement that Nadal had become an ambassador for the nation.

“We will see how far they go, but there are always positive aspects. They started betting heavily on other sports and now they want to do so on tennis, current players and the youngest players. I hope your presence is beneficial to everyone,” the world No 67 said.

“Rafa Nadal is one of the best in history and if he is your ambassador it is good news. He is a great champion and a good person, who has done and does a lot for tennis, such as with his academies. That someone like him works to produce players is a very good thing.”

READ MORE: Stan Wawrinka compares facing Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and names ‘perfect player’