Toni Nadal says his nephew Rafa’s main goal over the next few months will be to equal Rod Laver’s record winning of all the Grand Slams twice by winning the Australian Open.
After missing the second half of 2012 due to injury, the Spaniard has returned in fine style, delighting fans of live tennis online by triumphing at both the French and US Opens to overtake Novak Djokovic as the number one player in the world.
What makes his achievements even more remarkable is that he’s done all this while still battling with his troublesome knee problems, and recently admitted that he sometimes feels in more pain than before his break.
The 27-year-old’s discomfort was clear to see at the recent end of season ATP World Tour Finals where he struggled to get around the court in a the manner he has in the last few months but he hasn’t let that hamper his schedule, with him playing against Djokovic in a number of exhibition matches around the world in recent weeks.
Following the conclusion of those clashes, he will switch his attentions to the first Grand Slam of 2014, the Australian Open, an event he won in 2009. He will go into the 2014 renewal as one of the favourites in the tennis betting.
Victory will see him become the only the second man in history to claim all four tournaments twice in his career, with Aussie hero Laver currently the only male to hold such a record.
Although his coach is reluctant to mention his nephew in the same breath as one of the game’s great, he accepts the player’s position in the history books and believes winning at Melbourne will prove his talent.
“The challenge in 2014 will be to win Australia, because it would achieve something only Rod Laver did, which is twice winning the four [Grand Slams],” Toni Nadal said in an interview with the journalist David Nadal.