Rafael Nadal is an all-time tennis great. In case you didn't already know that, welcome to being a new tennis fan. You won't regret it. Go out and play and the sport is great exercise, and watch as much as you can and you will find each point is different from the prior one, and high-end matches can change direction at any moment.
But if you've heard of tennis then you have likely heard of Rafael Nadal. He ranks second all-time in Grand Slam wins (22) and could win another one or three. Maybe more. But Nadal has also missed a lot of time since the 2023 Australian Open when he was injured in the second round. He has been working his way back and in his first singles match of 2024, he destroyed former ATP No. 3 Dominic Thiem 7-5 6-1.
But before we get too hyped about Nadal already being fully back and ready to challenge for multiple titles and majors, his coach, Carlos Moya, says, well...not so fast. Moya told Eurosport in a recent interview that Nadal won't be completely back to his old self for several months. In other words, just in time for the clay court season.
Rafael Nadal might not be ready for greatness until March
According to Moya, "The process we are following is for him to be competitive at a very high level, starting in March or April. Everything that comes from now on is a bonus, but it is a hard process where the draws are going to play an important part in reaching the best level."
As most tennis fans know - and gain, if you are new to tennis, you will love the sport - Rafael Nadal's best surface is clay. He has won a ridiculous 14 French Open titles and has a record of 112-3. (No, I did not just make that up.) There is a good chance that Nadal could take a year off, come back and immediately play the French Open, and still win the Grand Slam. He's been that good and that dominant at Roland Garros.
So while Moya is very likely correct that Nadal will not find his real footing until at least March, we have seen Nadal be too successful to question whether he has a chance to win every tournament he enters. He cannot be counted out of winning the Australian Open. And tennis fans would love that.