Acclaimed tennis coach Darren Cahill was recently invited by ESPN to discuss Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal's prospects at the 2021 US Open. And according to Cahill, Nadal is the only player who can challenge Djokovic in New York.
Novak Djokovic clinched his 20th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon a few weeks ago, thus equalling Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal's all-time tally. The Serb will be gunning for gold at the Tokyo Olympics later this month, with the larger aim of completing the "Calendar Golden Slam" i.e. winning all four Majors plus the Olympic gold in the same year.
Rafael Nadal, on the other hand, hasn't won a single Slam this year. The Spaniard has only played six tour events in 2021, accumulating a 23-4 win-loss, and has been out of commission since losing to Djokovic in the Roland Garros semifinals.
Now that he has fully recovered from his grueling claycourt season, Nadal is expected to return to Flushing Meadows this year to defend the title he won in 2019.
Against that background, Darren Cahill claimed that Rafael Nadal will do his best to stop Novak Djokovic at the US Open this year. The Aussie also pointed out that Nadal, a four-time champion in New York, likes playing on the hardcourts there - which are medium-paced and high-bouncing.
"Nadal will try to stop Djokovic. If anyone can stop him, it's him," Cahill said. "Rafa loves to play in New York. He likes the playing conditions where the ball bounces high and he also had a lot of success there."
"Rafael Nadal will be ready to take up the challenge of stopping Novak Djokovic" - Darren Cahill
Darren Cahill, who has coached the likes of Andre Agassi and Simona Halep in the past, also claimed that Rafael Nadal would be eager to get his hardcourt season in high gear soon. Nadal will be playing in Washington and the ATP Masters 1000 tournaments in Canada and Cincinnati before traveling to New York for the US Open.
"He will first play in Cincinnati, Canada and Washington," Cahill said. "He will prepare well on these hardcourts and he will be ready to take up the challenge, that of stopping Djokovic."
Although Darren Cahill seems to have a lot of faith in Rafael Nadal, many of the Spaniard's fans aren't fully convinced with his play so far in 2021. The highlights of Nadal's season include title runs at the Italian Open and the Barcelona Open, but he hasn't looked at his imperious best the way Novak Djokovic has this year.