Rafael Nadal should not be underestimated ahead of the 2022 Australian Open and remains part of the 'big three' of men's tennis, despite all the talk of a new guard, says Alex Corretja.
Nadal, who is currently in Melbourne preparing for the opening Grand Slam of the year, which gets underway on January 17, has been largely overlooked with his fitness previously having been in doubt and amid the ongoing Novak Djokovic exemption furore.
Alexander Zverev did not mention Nadal or Roger Federer when he told Eurosport Germany's Das Gelbe vom Ball podcast who he expected to dominate in 2022, citing the success enjoyed by himself, Daniil Medvedev and Djokovic last season.
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But Corretja believes that Zverev and Medvedev still have work to do if they are to be considered in a class of their own and made it clear that, for him, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic remain the real 'big three' in men's tennis.
"For Rafa, it’s obvious that he needs more matches; he needs more rhythm,” Corretja told Eurosport.
"Of course, you can always expect Rafa to do well whenever he gets matches under his belt. He will have the first week of the Open, and if he stays healthy, he will be a contender for sure.
"We may not have Novak, but Medvedev and Zverev will likely be more the favourites than him, so he may not be in the top two.
But watch out: he is Rafa; he has 20 Grand Slams, so don’t underestimate his chances.

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"Even though he has only won once in Melbourne, he is always a tough guy to beat, especially in a best-of-five match. When he gets more matches under his belt, he will be dangerous again.
"Zverev and Medvedev have definitely been playing better tennis than Rafa in the last month, that’s obvious. You only have to look at the results. But they still need to keep improving to show that they are going to be in the next ‘big three’.
"They are playing better and better, but we can’t talk about them being in a ‘big three’ – the ‘big three’ are Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.
"Zverev, Medvedev and others are definitely going to be huge and great players, but it is still too early to put them in a ‘big three’, I believe.”
While Federer is not yet ready to participate at Melbourne Park, both Nadal and Djokovic - if he is permitted to remain in Australia - have the opportunity to move out on their own with 21 Grand Slam singles titles.
On Thursday, Corretja gave Eurosport his views regarding the fiasco with Djokovic not getting through security at Melbourne airport. You can read that article here.

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