‘Vulnerable Rafael Nadal is not a contender to win a Grand Slam in comeback’, claims coaching great

Rafael Nadal takes a break

Renowned tennis coach Rick Macci has argued that Rafael Nadal will not be a contender to win a Grand Slam title when he makes his return to the sport next year. 

Macci, a former coach of tennis legend Serena Williams, suggested players will no longer be “afraid” of Nadal as they know he will be “vulnerable” due to him losing mobility.

Nadal has not played since suffering a hip injury in his second round loss to Mackenzie McDonald at the 2023 Australian Open in January. The 22-time Grand Slam champion underwent surgery on the issue in June, having initially expected to be out for only six to eight weeks.

The 37-year-old was forced to postpone his planned comeback during the clay-court season and missed the French Open for the first time since 2004. He revealed in a press conference announcing his withdrawal from Roland Garros that 2024 would likely be his final season on the tour.

The former world No 1 won his most recent Major title at the 2022 French Open, where he defeated Casper Ruud in straight sets to claim a record-extending 14th Roland Garros crown.

Nadal is currently in 663rd position in the ATP Rankings, with the only points coming from his opening round win over Jack Draper at this year’s Australian Open.

The Mallorcan looks set to make his comeback in time for the upcoming Australian Open in January, with a report claiming he has finalised his travel plans ahead of the 2024 season.

READ MORE: When could Rafael Nadal make his return to tennis and what are the realistic expectations?

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Macci expressed that he thinks Nadal will find his return to the sport challenging given his age and he does not expect the tennis legend to add to his Major tally.

“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,” the 68-year-old American said in an interview with 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.

“Where before against Rafa, he’s 112-3 on clay [at Roland Garros]. The match was over before it even started. 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.”

Macci has worked with five players who achieved the world No 1 ranking in their careers: Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Jennifer Capriati and Andy Roddick. He also coached WTA Major champions Mary Pierce, Anastasia Myskina and Sofia Kenin.

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