‘Rafael Nadal is never a dark horse,’ says legend ahead of Australian Open

Boris Becker believes Rafael Nadal should not be written off as a potential winner of the Australian Open, despite his recent injury problems.

Nadal has returned to action in Australia this month after being out since August with a long-standing foot injury.

That usually comes with a period of slowly working yourself back to your best tennis, meaning Nadal has not been considered one of the favourites for the tournament.

However, Becker believes that lack of pressure may actually work in Nadal’s favour this time, and he wouldn’t even be there if he thought he didn’t have a chance of winning it.

Speaking on Eurosport Germany’s Das Gelbe Vom Ball podcast, Becker said: “As long as Rafael Nadal plays tennis and gets the chance, he is never a dark horse for me, but always one of the tournament favourites.

“I think that in the back of his mind he just wants to win [the French Open] again, but he has to play tournaments first, preferably a Grand Slam.

“He has no pressure, nobody expects anything from him.

“The preparation was bad because of his Corona illness [but] I don’t know anyone in the main draw who would like to play Nadal in the first or second round.

“That is his nimbus – he is one of the ultimate superstars.

“And again, he can also get [his 21st major title]. I think that’s another reason why he’s playing in Melbourne.

“These top stars who have won so much, they wouldn’t be playing if they didn’t think they had a chance.”

Nadal’s preparations for the Australian Open have been pretty good, with the Spaniard winning his comeback event at the Melbourne Summer Set last week.

He will start his Australian Open campaign against American Marcos Giron.

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