Rafael Nadal’s time at the top of the men’s game may be running out as his physical style of play takes its toll on his health, says Boris Becker.
Nadal withdrew from the US Open and ended his season last week due to a foot injury. The Spaniard missed out on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and finishes the season without a Grand Slam for the first time since 2016.
The world number four is renowned for his physical style and the way he has ground down opponents with lengthy baseline rallies over his illustrious career.
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But Becker believes Nadal’s style is pushing the limits of his health, and that we could see less and less of the superstar.
“You have to worry about Rafael Nadal's health,” said Eurosport expert Becker.
“He is a very physical player and has to train a lot. The matches, even if they are often won in two sets, always take one and a half or two hours because the rallies are so long. That's why he always reaches his physical limits. And if he is just one step slower or can't run left-right twenty times, then he doesn't feel strong enough.”
“Time does not stand still for him. He needs the break - it will do him good.”
Rafael Nadal wins Roland-Garros 2020
Image credit: Getty Images
Nadal win his 13th Roland Garros title in 2020 where he has been near unbeatable during his career, but he was seen off in this year’s final by Novak Djokovic with relative ease.
He was absent from Wimbledon and the Olympics, and for the second year running misses the US Open, alongside great rival Roger Federer who is also absent through injury.
And Becker says that, due to his injury record, age and style of play, we will see less and less of Nadal.
“Nadal fans have to slowly get used to the idea that he won't play forever,” added Becker. “You don't get match-fit in practice, unfortunately, you have to get back into the game - that carries the risk of getting injured again.
"It's always a tightrope between match practice before my most important tournament and the number of practice sessions I need.
"You've been doing it for ten or 15 years and you know what to do, but it's all much more difficult beyond 30, beyond 35. Nadal and Federer have the same problem now.”
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