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Rafael Nadal's decision is correct, Novak Djokovic isn't the outright USO favorite: Alex Corretja

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal
ANALYST
Modified 27 Aug 2020, 20:54 IST
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With the US Open just days, former quarterfinalist Alex Corretja has weighed in on the absence of his compatriot and defending champion Rafael Nadal from the American Grand Slam.

As things stand, Nadal and Gael Monfils are the only male top 10 players to have withdrawn due to health and safety concerns. Needless to say Nadal’s decision has prompted a great deal of discussion in the tennis fraternity, and Corretja couldn't stay away from the topic either.

In an interview with Marca, the former French Open finalist threw his weight behind Rafael Nadal’s decision to withdraw. For him, the Mallorcan simply had to pick the event where he’d have a better chance of winning.

Corretja also gave his thoughts on Novak Djokovic potentially closing the gap on Roger Federer's record Slam tally, but added an word of caution by saying that the Serb wasn’t a ‘outright favorite’ in New York.

I honestly do understand it: Corretja on Rafael Nadal’s decision

Rafael Nadal’s decision to pull out was viewed by most as an unfortunate piece of news, but not a surprising one. With the US Open ending just a fortnight before the French Open, many experts had predicted that the Spaniard would prioritize his favored surface.

Add to that the potential health hazards with respect to COVID-19 in New York, and Rafael Nadal’s decision was widely regarded as a sensible one. 

Rafael Nadal will not be defending his US Open crown
Rafael Nadal will not be defending his US Open crown

Alex Corretja mentioned that with his US Open pullout, Rafael Nadal would be avoiding the change in surfaces - which could have been tricky after the lengthy hiatus from tennis. Corretja also pointed out that Rafael Nadal would be saving the ranking points earned in New York last year, thus making it a wise decision.

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“I honestly do understand it. I have not spoken with him but he will have assessed where the best options are to win a Grand Slam again, at the US Open or at Roland Garros," Corretja said. "If he continues to prepare, he thinks he will get to Paris better. The change of surface is saved. After six months without competing, it's not easy to start playing five sets on the hard court.”
“Rafael Nadal's decision is correct for me," Corretja added. "If there had been more time between the two Majors, I would have been in both. In addition, I knew before that if I did not play the US Open, the 2,000 points of last year's champion will keep them. It is true that he loses the option of adding another Grand Slam, but no one assures you that he was going to win it and there is always the risk of injury.”
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Novak Djokovic has done the same analysis as Rafael Nadal: Alex Corretja

Novak Djokovic will not have defending champion Rafael Nadal in the playing field
Novak Djokovic will not have defending champion Rafael Nadal in the playing field

Given that he is just two Slams away from Rafael Nadal and three from Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic has been tipped by many to take full advantage of their absence and close the gap. But Alex Corretja believes that the Serb merely weighed his options and, like Nadal, picked the event where he’d have a greater chance of winning.

“What is evident is that you cannot act thinking of the other," Corretja said. "Everyone is going to have a hard time winning. Djokovic, for example, has done the same analysis of Rafa. You've thought: 'Where do I have more options at the US Open or Roland Garros?' The first tournament there was was the US Open because that's where it has gone. If there had been Roland Garros before, it would have to be seen what he would have done."
The new courts at Flushing Meadows are playing faster this year
The new courts at Flushing Meadows are playing faster this year
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The newly laid courts at Flushing Meadows have prompted plenty of discussion lately due to their surprisingly quick nature; Djokovic himself said they are 20-30% faster than usual. That, coupled with the uncertainty in performances and physicality (due to the long absence from tennis), led Corretja to declare that Djokovic might not have the US Open handed to him on a platter.

“I don't see Djokovic being an outright favorite to win the trophy," the Spaniard said. "The courts are very fast although they also say that the center court is less so. It is all very strange and there will surely be different results than what we are used to. You will see how tennis players that we had not expected five months ago slip through. Nobody knows how your body and your mind will react, especially the body because when they play three games in a row to see how they recover.”
Published 27 Aug 2020, 20:54 IST
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