© Ella Ling

Rafa Nadal

Wilander: Rafa could put fear in their eyes again

   

Mats Wilander, who presents Eurosport’s ‘Game, Set and Mats’, talks to The Tennis Space about the Australian Open:

Are you surprised by how well Djokovic has performed since winning here last year? Not at all. I do think 2012 was a great year for him. He won here which was huge, could have won the French easily, wasn’t really fired up at Wimbledon and the Olympics because he didn’t win the four in a row. And at the US Open the consensus was a bit ah what the hell, Andy needs to win one at some point, not intentionally, but he just wasn’t that fired up. Then he comes back and does well at the end of the year, he’s back to working, wins Shanghai, wins London, even though they are half marathons. Then he comes here, he has locked himself into being No.1 in the world, on paper and on the court and he seems as happy there as Roger was. I certainly know that that’s not that easy to be. I wasn’t, but he is. He’s got a great team around him, he is improving everything that needs to be improved, he still has a long way to go in his mind to be perfect, but he’s had the perfect 24 months really.

Do you think we will see the Big Four together again? I really hope we get to see the Big Four together again. Especially now that Andy has stepped it up, and is willing to take responsiblity for what he’s doing on the court and off the court with the hiring of someone like Ivan. I just wish and pray we get Rafa back. And proper Rafa, putting fear in their eyes, the ‘I don’t want to play Rafa because something like the final here last year could happen’. We deserve to see that, and so do the four of them.

Do you think Murray would have found it more difficult to win the US Open if Rafa had been playing? No. I think it was his time. He overcame Novak which was the one he had to worry about. Novak is the one he needed to beat.

In terms of other players, who’s next? I think Jerzy Janowicz is dangerous, I think Milos Raonic is dangerous. I don’t think that Del Potro, Tsonga, Berdych will step up and win a major. I think 5 through 50 needs to step up. They need to improve. Their level has to go way up. They are never going to beat three of the four, we’ve never had four like that at the same time. They need to break in, take someone out in the early rounds, we need them to not fall into the trap of thinking ‘oh these guys are the best, how can I beat them.’ There needs to be more stupid belief from them, more fire from the group behind. They have to help each other pave the way. They all need to have the same mindset so that one can slip through by only beating one of the top four.

Do you think they’ve become too comfortable? They have. No question. They can’t even beat them in regular ATP tournaments any more. And that’s unheard of. The guys don’t have the belief. At least they’re portraying that to me.

-

British Eurosport HD will show comprehensive LIVE coverage of the Australian Open, 14-27 January. Live multi-court coverage also available online and on mobile via Eurosport Playerwww.eurosportplayer.co.uk

   
  • Mary

    What!!!! Is he saying Rafa didn’t play the AO because he was afraid of another final
    with Djokovich. Where does this guy live? Either under a rock or on the moon. He
    has no business commenting on tennis if this is all he can come up with. Hellooooo,
    Mr. Wilander, the “I’m to scared to play tennis” may have been how you operated, but
    anyone who follows Nadal knows that’s not his mo. The “real” Rafa has been
    rehabing his knee, and god willing he will be a force to contend with come this spring.
    Then you can jump back on the band wagon and say “Oh, I told you so”. Hypocrites.