Zee Media Bureau/Chaitan Papnai
Sydney: Top ranked tennis player, Rafael Nadal is among the top two contenders to win the first Major of the year – Australian Open. Another contender is certainly the Serbian tennis ace, Novak Djokovic, who is the second seeded player of the tournament, behind Nadal.
Though Djokovic has four Australian Open titles under his belt and has successfully defended his titles on last two occasions, this time around, it is Nadal who is being considered as the firm favourite to lift the trophy. Rafa has been performing exceptionally well since his dramatic comeback in 2013 after recovering from a knee injury. He has won two out of three Grand Slams he played after nursing his knee – French Open and US Open. If Rafa manages to win this time around, it would be his second Australian Open title, which would take his overall Slam tally to 14.
Though Rafa has won the Australian Open just once, way back in 2009, but it's a fact that blue turf at Melbourne suits his style more, due to its slow surface. But this time round it seems, he won`t get that advantage. According to Toni Nadal, coach and uncle of Rafa, ball is travelling at a quicker pace, comparatively. “This year everything is a bit quicker, that`s my feeling and also Rafa`s. I don`t know if it`s because of the courts or the balls, which I think have been changed, but I don`t think it`s good for the spectacle.” Toni`s disappointment also hinted that Nadal might not get that `court advantage` in Melbourne.
Now, along with scorching heat and strong opponents, Nadal also has to adapt to the changed surface to justify the top billing.