Rafael Nadal's Comeback Is Good News for Andy Murray's Grand Slam Hopes

Aaron GalesCorrespondent IIFebruary 9, 2013

Rafael Nadal is on the comeback trail after a long injury
Rafael Nadal is on the comeback trail after a long injuryRobert Marquardt/Getty Images

I'm sure many of you reading that title will disagree with me, and I can understand why. 

Andy Murray has always struggled against the power and athleticism of the Spaniard and has a losing record against him. 

Murray has beaten Nadal twice in Grand Slam tournaments, but more often than not he has come up short when facing Nadal in the past, particularly in the bigger matches. He has always been able to create chances but has struggled with the remorseless nature of the Nadal game.

However, that was the old Andy Murray. The pre-Lendl Murray. His game has changed dramatically since then. Since they last played, Murray has reached a Wimbledon final, won Olympic Gold, snatched his first Grand Slam victory and reached his third Australian Open final. I think the Scotsman would fancy his chances the next time the two players meet in a tournament. 

That is not the reason, though, that I believe Nadal is essential to Murray's chances of winning a another Grand Slam in 2013. Many will argue that this makes Murray's task all the harder, and I can see their reasoning. It just adds another potential obstacle for him to overcome. 

The reason this thought occured to me was when Novak Djokovic absolutely steamrollered through David Ferrer in his Australian Open semifinal. Murray then played a day later and was taken to five sets following a courageous Roger Federer performance.

In the final, Murray was far the better player in the first two sets against his great rival but ran out of steam after losing the second set on a tie break. 

Murray is one of the fittest players on the tour and would be reluctant to ever use tiredness as an excuse for a loss, but it does make a massive difference. 

Had Nadal not been injured, it would likely have been him facing up to Djokovic in the other semifinal and not the limited Ferrer. It is highly unlikely that Djokovic would have beaten Nadal in straight sets. Many of their matches have been exhausting five-set affairs.

Let's imagine that it has been a long match, much like their final in Australia 2012. Would Djokovic have had the same levels of energy that he displayed against Murray in their final? Probably not.

I'm not taking anything away from Novak Djokovic. He thoroughly deserved to win his third straight title.

I just think that the very biggest matches at Grand Slam level should be competitive affairs, and the return of Nadal from injury will ensure that this occurs.