Can Nadal equal Federer’s slam record in 2018?
Rafael Nadal has won 16 grand slams so far. In 2017 the world number one added two more to his tally. Unlucky for him so too did his rival for slam titles Roger Federer. The standings currently are Rafael Nadal 16, Roger Federer 19 but given Rafa’s great form are we likely to see Rafa picking up 3 slam titles in 2018?
Although Nadal only won two slams in the 2017 he was a whisker away from defeating Federer in the Australian Open. Had that result been reversed the standings would now be 18-17. Nevertheless Rafa can head into the 2018 as deservedly one of the favourites to lift the title. If we consider the US Open 2017 he was utterly dominant why cant he be the same in Australia. So in theory and hypothetically speaking of course Rafa takes the Australian Open 2018, he will be on 17 slams only two away from equalling Roger.
In the spring in Paris Rafa would be angling for his 18th slam title in 2018. It does have quite a ring to it! Rafa stands head and shoulders above anyone else on the clay courts. Paris is his patch, he has owned this tournament for ten years and he knows what it takes to win. It would be a huge shock if someone else other than Rafa were to win in Paris in 2018. So within 6 months Rafa could be one slam behind Roger.
Out of all the slams Rafa struggles most on grass. The knee bending required to retrieve slices is tough on his body and he is no longer able to do it. He cannot be completely discounted from the running but there are others who can take him out. Take for example his 4th round opponent this year Gilles Muller. The pair played an epic in every sense of the word match on Centre. It had a fantastic 5th set with heroic break points from both guys only for them to be wiped out by big serves. I don’t expect Rafa to win Wimbledon in 2018.
Following a well deserved summer break Rafa can take on the US hardcourt season with renewed vigour. As defending champion he will be keen to fight his hardest to retain his title. This year we expect Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka to return to a competitive level and all will be mentioned as future winners. There are others too who are fasting improving and will pose a problem to Nadal. The US Open 2018 is a possibility for Nadal.
3 slams in one season?
I would put my house on Nadal winning in Paris next year. He can also win Australian Open or the US Open. Is he likely to win all three? Probably not. If we look at Nadal’s career as a whole although he has dominated for seasons he has struggled to back it up the following year. This trend could continue in 2018 but Nadal has been at his ruthless best when slams have been on the line. If he plays himself into contention next year he will be like a dog with a bone. Unfortunately Nadal will have to do his slam winning without the help of his long time coach and uncle Toni. Uncle Toni will stay home in Mallorca to head up the Rafael Nadal academy. Even he predicts that Nadal will surpass Federer’s record.
2018 may not be the year Nadal equals Federer but he will certainly pick up a few. Perhaps 2019 or 2020 may be the seasons when he eventually surpasses the great Federer. Who of us then would be able to argue that Federer was the GOAT? Is it wishful thinking?