Coach's fitness fears for Nadal comeback – Chinadaily.com.cn – China Daily

Rafa Nadal has shown good progress in training since recovering from a hip injury but his coach Carlos Moya still worries about how the former world No 1’s body will hold up against the rigors of Grand Slam tennis.
The 37-year-old suffered a muscle issue at Melbourne Park in January that wiped out his season but will return at Brisbane this month before playing in the Jan 14-28 Australian Open, where he won two of his 22 Grand Slam titles.
The Spaniard, who had surgery in June, has said 2024 could be his final year on tour and has stepped up training in recent months in order to make a comeback and ensure he finishes his career on court.
“Rafa’s going to go from training, which he’s doing very well, to competing. It’s impossible to have the same conditions in training as in a match,” Moya said in an interview with the ATP Tour.
“Playing the best of five sets, win, rest, return to court two days later …That’s the doubt I have right now, especially for a Grand Slam. But we have time. If the Australian Open started tomorrow, it would be a real fear.
“There’s still a month left, a tournament before in Brisbane, demanding training … I think all of this will put him in a position to be able to endure it. But now that’s my fear.”
Nadal dropped out of the top 100 for the first time in 20 years earlier this season and has slipped to No 668, but is eligible for a protected ranking having been injured and not played in a competition for at least six months.
However, Moya said Nadal would not be able to avoid strong opponents in the early rounds and would need favorable draws to build up his rhythm.
“I’ve never been of the thought that Rafa needs rhythm because he’s too good for that,” Moya said. “But now the situation is different.”
Awaken the ‘beast’
Novak Djokovic turns 37 next year but the Serbian says his appetite for success will only increase with young challengers awakening the “beast” in him.
The world No 1 enjoyed an extraordinary 2023 by winning three out of the four Grand Slams to take his tally to 24, two more than his great rival Nadal and four more than the retired Roger Federer.
Djokovic did not have it all his own way, however, with 20-year-old Carlos Alcaraz denying him a fifth-straight Wimbledon crown in a thrilling final and 22-year-old Jannik Sinner dashing his hopes of Davis Cup glory.
“The young guys who are very hungry and very inspired to play their best tennis against me is an additional motivation,” Djokovic said on CBS News program 60 Minutes.
“I think they kind of awaken a beast in me.”
Djokovic beat Alcaraz in three of their four meetings this year — including the French Open semifinals where the Spaniard suffered full-body cramps — but the Serb said his young rival had become a real threat.
“He’s as a complete of a player as I have seen in ages,” Djokovic said, adding that he used his defeat in the Wimbledon final as motivation for the US hard-court swing, where he won at Cincinnati and Flushing Meadows.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to reinvent myself and really push harder than I ever did.”
Reuters
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Originally posted 2023-12-22 13:00:51. Republished by Blog Post Promoter