What Does 2020 Hold For Rafael Nadal?11-11-2019
The 2019 tennis season isn't completely over yet, and there's a chance Rafael Nadal still has a major accomplishment ahead. This year, he was the first to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals and barring an injury or some other unforeseen complication he's expected to compete in the event in mid-November. Yet what lays in 2020 for the Spanish Tennis Legend?
Nadal has had poor luck at this event in the past, but it will give him a chance to wrap up the season as, pretty much inarguably, the top player of 2019.
Aside from the World Tour Finals though, the season is essentially over, which means it's already about time to look ahead to 2020. And with Nadal now seemingly walking a fine line between pushing his body too hard and asserting himself as the greatest of all time, we're specifically looking at what the next year might hold for him.
Except for the brand-new, mini-World Cup sort of event that's being held in Australia in early January, the 2020 season will begin in earnest at the Australian Open.
And for that event, some of the newest and best online bookmakers are already posting odds - and slotting in Nadal just behind Novak Djokovic as one of the favorites.
|Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the Australia Open 2019
These odds would seem essential to solidify Nadal as something of a co-favorite given Djokovic's uncertain health, though it's also fair to say that the list of contenders looks a bit longer in Melbourne.
Roger Federer has been strong in Australia the last few years coming off his December break, and it may be his best Grand Slam tournament at this point in his career for that reason. And meanwhile, upstart Russian Daniil Medvedev is pounding on the door of his first Slam (and nearly topped Nadal in the U.S. Open final).
Whatever happens in Australia, it seems very likely that Nadal and his team will come up with a reason for him to take some time off in its aftermath.
If Nadal triumphs in Melbourne, he'll have matched Federer's Slam total and will be looking to the French Open with a chance to take the all-time lead; if he doesn't win in Melbourne, naturally, he'll need the French to draw even (or catch up, if, in fact, Federer wins the Aussie Open).
Whatever the case, we've seen this movie before: Nadal will almost certainly take a little bit of time off following the Aussie to make sure he's in optimal physical condition for the clay-court season.
And at that point, it becomes all about winning the French, which he's done over a dozen times before. We'd hesitate to say any Slam is easy for any player, but based on last year's results, if Nadal is healthy there's still no one that can touch him in a best-of-five match on clay.
Where 2020 gets unpredictable though is after the French Open, heading into a crowded summer slate.
Nadal has had to tweak and manage his schedule to stay fit for Wimbledon and the U.S. Open for years now, and with the Olympics also on the slate for 2020, that process gets more difficult.
On his part, he has already voiced his displeasure with what the Olympics do for players' schedules - either hinting that he might not make the trip to Tokyo or else laying the groundwork to skip other events to try to minimize wear and tear.
At the end, how Nadal manages the summer swing may depend on how the first half of 2020 goes for him.
If he picks up another Slam or two before summer, perhaps he'll feel more comfortable about making the trip to Tokyo to represent Spain in the Olympics. If not, it seems a reasonable bet that he might skip the Olympics to prepare for Wimbledon or the U.S. Open.
Either way, expect him to prioritize the Slams, given that he's going to enter 2020 within reach of Federer's record.
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