Novak Djokovic will have used Rafael Nadal’s Australian Open win to ‘fuel the fire’ according to one of the sport’s most revered coaches. Darren Cahill, who has coached the likes of including Andy Murray, Ana Ivanovic, Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt and Simona Halep, think the Spaniard’s success in Melbourne could inadvertently help the Serbian as he continues his bid to become the most successful Grand Slam player of all time.
That honour currently belongs to the Nadal, whose win at Melbourne Park represented an incredible comeback having undergone ankle surgery last August.
That ruled him out of the US Open, and his scheduled comeback in Abu Dhabi in December was then scuppered when he tested positive for Covid-19.
Despite his lack of match practice though, the 35-year-old won through to a final with Daniil Medvedev, who took on the mantra of top seed once Djokovic was ruled out of the tournament.
And in a final for the ages, Nadal fought back from two sets down to win 2-6 6-7 6-4 6-4 7-5 in a contest that ran just short of five and a half hours.
It took him to a total of 21 Grand Slam wins, having previously been tied on 20 with Djokovic and Swiss maestro Roger Federer.
And given his prestigious record at the French Open, an event Nadal has won 13 times, he is likely to be odds-on favourite to collect title no 22 at Roland Garros in May.
However, Cahill, 56, thinks Nadal’s success will be the incentive Djokovic needs to up his own game, assuming he returns to the sport following the explosive saga over his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
“I think Novak uses this to fuel the fire he’s always played with, I think he’s still searching for improvement in his game, and I think we’ll still see an unbelievable level from Novak over the next couple of years,” the Australian told the New York Times.