Rafael Nadal has played very little in this second half of the season, thanks to his abdominal injury and the birth of his first child. However, the Spanish phenomenon took enormous satisfaction in 2022, having won the Australian Open and Roland Garros despite the persistent pain in his foot.
The former world number 1 also tried to win his third Wimbledon title, but a tear in his abs prevented him from playing the semi-final against Nick Kyrgios. The 36-year-old from Manacor was not at his best even at the US Open, where he was knocked out in the round of 16 by host Frances Tiafoe.
After taking a long hiatus, Rafa returned to action at Paris-Bercy last week. His run in the last 1000 of the season ended already in the second round against Tommy Paul. The 22-time Grand Slam champion hopes to shine at the ATP Finals in Turin, one of the very few tournaments he hasn’t won yet.
The Iberian was included in the ‘Green Group’ together with Casper Ruud, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Taylor Fritz. In the latest edition of the ‘Court-Side with Beilinson Tennis’ podcast, well-known journalist Steve Flink analyzed Rafa’s chances in Turin.
Steve Flink on Rafa Nadal
“Rafael Nadal talked about the need to play more matches, he talked about getting to Italy early to play practice sets but practice sets are nothing like playing real matches. It just helps you but it is not the same thing,” Flink said.
“So it was unfortunate that he didn’t get more matches in Paris in advance of Turin to give himself a better chance because the field has so much depth. It’s going to be such a hard-fought event and both groups of four players each are going to be exceedingly strong.
So it’s going to be hard for Rafa because he has always been the least comfortable indoors. He could well prove me wrong. He’s is one of these guys who, no matter how many negative comments he makes, ‘doubt’ is one of his favorite words, he overcomes his doubts.
I still think we’ll see him go in with the usual fighting spirit. So he’ll still be hard to beat but I don’t like the conditions. It tends to be fast in Turin,” he added. “Jim Courier made an interesting point that the good news for Rafa is that there seems to be no evidence of the foot problem.
The foot seems okay. It didn’t seem to be a problem at Wimbledon, the US Open, or again here. So at least that seems under control. I don’t know about the abdominal. I still don’t think he’s serving like the real Rafa.
I didn’t see it against Tommy Paul. I don’t see the comfortable extension that he once had. So I’m a bit concerned about that,” Flink said.