Some will say 20 time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has a comfy draw in Melbourne. Not just is Novak Djokovic on the other side of the draw but so is Sascha Zverev and Dominic Thiem.
No doubt it is a bit of an easier pathway knowing you will only potentially have to play one of them but if I had Tsitsipas, Rublev, Agut and Medvedev in my half I would not be comfy.
Rafa has been getting comfortable in the week leading up to the Australian Open, a back injury did mean he couldn’t take part in the ATP Cup and spent his week on the bench, so is he ready?
Looking at his draw for the Australian Open it doesn’t look like it will be as plain sailing as people make out it will:
R1 – Laslo Djere
R2 – Viktor Troicki
R3 – Dan Evans
R4 – De Minaur / Fognini
QF – Berrettini / Tsitsipas
SF – Medvedev / Rublev
F – Djokovic / Thiem / Zverev
A potential draw never works out as expected but it could be tricky early on for Nadal. Troicki is tricky and Dan Evans is in fine form coming into the Australian Open on the back of his first ATP title.
Out of the four contenders who I would consider as Djokovic, Medvedev, Thiem and Rafa himself he is the most under prepared having not played except for a exhibition against Dominic Thiem in Adelaide a week or so back.
Nadal has cast further doubts over his fitness and potentially participation at the Australian Open saying in his pre-tournament press conference:
For the last 15 days I have been suffering with the back. I started to have the feeling in Adelaide after one practice. It isn’t serious, but the muscle is still tight, so it’s diffucult to play with the freedom of the movement.
I tried little bit today to serve again. I’m doing everything what’s possible to be ready. I still hoping to keep improving. I know sometimes things change quick. I’m going to keep staying positive.