Rafael Nadal: How Long Absence Will Impact His Australian Open Chances

David A. Cucchiara@@cucch22Correspondent INovember 28, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 28:  Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts during his Gentlemen's Singles second round match against Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic on day four of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 28, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Spanish tennis sensation Rafael Nadal’s five-month absence from tennis will affect his chances of advancing deep into this year’s Australian Open.

NDTV Sports is reporting that Nadal has vowed to play in the Australian Open, which begins in January, after spending five months rehabbing his knee injury.

Tennis is arguably the toughest sport to come back from injury and the Australian Open will provided one of the tougher stages to do it.



The Fragile Knees of Nadal

Nadal, who’s currently ranked No. 4 in the world, has a lot of catching up to do conditioning-wise over the next month.

Before succumbing to injury, Nadal looked uncharacteristically out of shape and broken during his final few matches.

His struggles were apparent during the ATP Gerry Weber Open, where he was outplayed in the second round by the 29-year-old German Philipp Kohlschreiber.

A few weeks later in Wimbledon he dropped in the second round again, but this time to Lukas Rosol who dragged the injured Spaniard through five grueling sets.

While I don’t doubt that Nadal will give the Australian Open his all, his conditioning will likely be behind the favorites.


Evolution of Tennis During His Absence

While Nadal spent the last five months rehabbing, tennis underwent an interesting shift.

No longer is there simply the Nadal-Federer dominance of the past, now guys like Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and even Juan-Martin Del Potro can beat anyone on any given day.

Concentrating on the “Big Four,” there’s no denying that Nadal has taken a backseat to an Andy Murray who has not only looked better, but has been more successful than Nadal in 2012.

The guys that Nadal used to roll over in 2011 have improved mightily, so the chances of Nadal advancing deep into this tournament are slim.