Boris Becker says Rafael Nadal can handle the pressure of going for a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam as he’s more relaxed than Novak Djokovic.
Nadal reached his 29th Grand Slam final at the Australian Open this week after beating Matteo Berrettini comfortably in a four set semi-final.
He will now take on top seed Daniil Medvedev in the final with the hope of the securing a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam win in the men’s game.
The current record of 20 majors is held jointly by Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
Nadal had been suffering with a long-standing foot injury before the Australian Open and was seen in crutches just two months before, so it was uncertain whether the Spaniard could find his previous form.
“What a legend of our sport, ” Becker said in reference to Nadal.
“Two months ago it was uncertain whether he would be able to continue playing at all after his serious ankle operation – and then he comes to Australia and plays his best tennis.”
Novak Djokovic has so far come the closest to breaking the Grand Slam record when he reached the final of last years US Open, however, it was Nadal’s opponent tomorrow, Medvedev, who prevented him from achieving it.
But Becker believes the difference between Nadal and Djokovic is that Nadal is more relaxed about the record and that has benefitted him.
“I don’t think Nadal was thinking about his 21st Grand Slam title before the semi-final. He is more relaxed about it than Novak Djokovic,” says Becker.
“He says, I’m happy that I still can play tennis and that I’m in the final in Australia.
“But that will change now. Rafa has two nights before the final and he will be thinking about the 21. However, Rafa is an absolute superstar and will be able to handle it.”
As for the final, Becker believes the right two players are there and he thinks it will be a battle.
“For me, the two best players are in the final. For Nadal I’m happy because I’m a big fan of him and I was worried after his surgery. But Nadal wouldn’t be Nadal if he didn’t have a chance to win every time he plays a tournament.
“Rafael Nadal has earned his status over the years. He says the right things even after the match. You can’t say that about Medvedev, who is very honest – that’s not always good. But Daniil also earned a few hearts here, especially with his fighting performance.”
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