"I want to be 100 percent by Monte Carlo through Roland Garros." These words recently muttered by Rafael Nadal signal the beginning of the end for the great Spaniard. But that is only if you believe them!
The 26-year-old has told reporters that his chances of winning the Australian Open, the first grand slam that he will compete in since being knocked out of Wimbledon this year by the unknown Lukas Rosol, are minimal and in all truth he will struggle. Certainly the Australian Open Betting
ranks him unusually low for such a tournament.
The knees have taken a battering and the clay court specialist, who has conquered all the other surfaces, now seems content to do what he does best; rule at Roland Garros.
But is the Majorcan just playing games with the press? Does he really believe that it is all over and that he can only offer his best on clay court surfaces? If so then there is value there for the punter who likes to bet on Tennis
It is certain that Nadal will struggle to regain the form that led him to Wimbledon, US Open and Australian titles to go along with his seven French Open crowns. However, although the body, which has taken a severe battering due to his style of play, looks like it could be on the blink soon, there is no doubting that the steely determination still lies within.
It would be a fool to write Nadal off in 2013. If he his fully fit he must be favourite to win for the fourth year on the bounce in Paris. Australia may be one step too far too soon. But the grass of Wimbledon and the hard courts of New York are very much attainable.
Nadal is number four in the world right now and part of a special cohort that sit a league above the rest. However, within that group he still maintains the respect of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray. All three know that Nadal has struggled of late. But with such pedigree and the Ďwinningí mentality seemingly innate in his make-up, 2013 could see a return to 2010 Ė a year in which Nadal picked up three grand slams.