These first months of 2022 have already given fans several twists. Hardly anyone could have imagined a similar start to the season by Rafael Nadal, who has just come back from a long stop due to injury and arrived in Melbourne without great expectations.
Against all odds, the Spanish phenomenon won the Australian Open and posted his 21st Major. The 35-year-old from Manacor overtook Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the all-time rankings, reaffirming that he is an absolute legend of modern sport.
As if that were not enough, the Iberian has become the fourth man in history to have won all the Grand Slams at least twice (along with Djokovic, Rod Laver and Roy Emerson). Rafa will try to stretch further at Roland Garros, but will have to deal with Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz.
The 19-year-old from Murcia has left everyone speechless in recent months, winning two Masters 1000s (Miami and Madrid) and two ATP 500s (Rio and Barcelona). In a recent interview with ‘Le Soir’, Justine Henin drew an interesting parallel between Alcaraz and the Big 3.
Justine Henin on Carlos Alcaraz
“So there are a lot of things that impress me about Carlos Alcaraz. He is only 19 years old, but he shows a maturity that is really disconcerting! What is amazing about him is his learning speed, it’s the adjustment.
Day by day, you could see that he was evolving in his tennis, in the little mistakes he had been able to make, and progress like that, so quickly, it’s amazing. Comparisons are obviously tempting, but to start now to estimate that he will reach or beat certain records in Grand Slams is a bit irrelevant, we are not there, when he is only just starting out.”
She added that Carlos Alcaraz also embodies qualities from each of the Big 3. “But hey, he started on a very good basis, of course. In terms of play, he seems to me to be the most complete of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
It seems that there is a good mix of the three there. The comparison with Nadal, for me, tennistically, does not hold. It is the precocity of the two that brings them together.” Rafael Nadal is not only the ‘King of Clay’ but also the ‘King of Comebacks’.
Take the example of the Australian Open this year. Nadal was making a comeback after missing the latter half of the 2021 season. He put on an impressive show, winning his 21st Grand Slam title. Moreover, he did it in style, defeating Daniil Medvedev in the finals in a thrilling five-set contest.