Becker is a six-time Slam champion who won all the Majors barring the French Open, where he never made it past the semifinals. Since retirement the German has taken on various roles, including that of Novak Djokovic's coach, and now operates as an expert for multiple publications.
In a recent conversation, Becker delved deeper into Rafael Nadal’s loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas. Nadal failed to close out the match despite having a two sets to love lead, which is just the third such instance in the Spaniard's career.
Becker claimed that Nadal will be mentally affected by this defeat, and that he may struggle to get over it in time for the French Open.
"His five-set defeat by Stefanos Tsitsipas will sting for some time, and could even be a factor at the French Open," Becker said.
According to the German, Rafael Nadal’s defeat exposed some chinks in the Spaniard’s armor that could be exploited at Roland Garros.
"There was definitely some vulnerability in Nadal if we think forward to Paris," Becker added.
Boris Becker claimed that Rafael Nadal looked like a spent force in the fifth set against Stefanos Tsitsipas, eventually getting outlasted by his younger opponent. The German also pointed out that Nadal’s play style requires an immense amount of physical exertion, which could come back to haunt the Spaniard.
"For the first time I can recall Rafael Nadal looked really tired in that fifth set, he was beaten physically, and the others will have seen that," Becker said. "The Spaniard’s style is so physical that it is going to take a toll. I am actually surprised that he has played to this incredibly high level for so long."
Boris Becker acknowledged that it would be unwise to get against Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros given his impeccable record there. But he followed that by sounding a word of caution about Nadal’s age, which he believes could be catching up to him.
"While it would be foolish to bet against him for Paris, when he gets that little step slower he will not be the same player," Becker concluded.
What is Rafael Nadal's schedule leading up to the French Open this year?
Over the next couple of months Rafael Nadal will have plenty of opportunities to shake off his Melbourne disappointment. He has entered the Rotterdam and Miami events scheduled in March, before turning his attention to the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open in April.
In 2020, the French Open took place towards the end of the year (September-October) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But this year the clay-court Major is expected to be played in its usual slot - the end of May.
The month of May will also see Rafael Nadal taking part in the Madrid Open and the Rome Masters.
While the Madrid event was called off last year, the Rome one was shifted to September. That was, in fact, the tournament where Rafael Nadal made his comeback to the tour after the resumption; the Spaniard ended up losing in the quarterfinals to Diego Schwartzman.