Alexander Zverev believes Rafael Nadal is the man to beat at the Australian Open this year if he is to win his first Grand Slam tournament.
The third seed has been in fantastic form so far in Melbourne, not dropping a set in his first two matches including beating home hero John Millman 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 to advance to round three.
But despite two World Tour wins and Olympic gold in Tokyo, Zverev is yet to break his Grand Slam duck and hopes to improve on his Australian Open semi-final appearance in 2020 when he was beaten by Dominic Thiem.
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Speaking after his win over Millman, the German pinpointed his potential threats in the men’s draw but reserved special praise for Nadal who is gunning for his record 21st major in Melbourne.
“I think Novak is probably the best – no question about it. He’s won the most." Zverev said.
“I think I’ve said this a lot before. Daniil [Medvedev] has won incredible tournaments over the last few months, few years so he’s one of the best players on hard courts.
“I’ve won the Olympics, World Tour finals, things like that. I think I can play quite well on hard courts, I think [Stefanos] Tsitsipas can play well on hard courts.
“But I do think right now Rafa is playing incredible tennis again so he’s not someone you can forget in this tournament.”
Nadal has also started the tournament in blistering form and booked his place in the third round following a straight-sets win over Yannick Hanfmann.
The Spaniard comes into the tournament having recovered from a foot injury that ended his 2021 campaign early.
However, speaking after his second-round win, the 35-year-old revealed how he keeps himself in shape to continue competing at the highest level.
"I play some golf," he said. "I'm not a gym guy. I'm more a fan of playing sports. Unfortunately a couple of years ago with the knees and the foot I was not able to play different sports like I used to."

'It was a battle' - Nadal beats Hanfmann in straight sets

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"Today I had to be more focused on things that in the past I was not. I probably work around one hour 30 minutes every day in the gym but I honestly never did a lot of weights."
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