Published On: Sun, Jan 14th, 2024
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John McEnroe has Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz wish | Tennis | Sport

The idea of Carlos Alacaraz pairing with Rafael Nadal for doubles excites John McEnroe, although only one of the two Spaniards will be in Melbourne for the Australian Open. All-time great Nadal made his much-anticipated return to action last week at the Brisbane International but after almost a year away from the courts the 22-time Grand Slam champion is being forced to sit out the first major tournament of the season.

Nadal suffered a micro tear of a thigh muscle in his quarter-final match against Jordan Thompson in Brisbane. It leaves World No. 2 Alcaraz as the primary interest for Spanish tennis fans at the Australian Open and the 20-year-old will be hoping for better luck than he experienced 12 months ago when he was forced to miss the 2023 event with a right leg injury, even though he was going to be the top seed in Melbourne.

McEnroe is a big fan of both players and would dearly like to see them play together. The outspoken American is Down Under on media duties for ESPN alongside former women’s star Mary Joe Fernandez.

During a pre-event media conference, the pair were asked about what doubles pairings they would like to see this year, particularly as it is an Olympics year.

McEnroe said: “Doubles? Would be incredible to see Nadal play with Alcaraz. I’d love to see that. I’d love to see [Frances] Tiafoe play with [Ben] Shelton. They played with me in the Laver Cup. They both have so much personality that those would definitely be my top two picks, for sure.

“I don’t even know if the Olympics is like a 16 or 32 draw. I haven’t thought about it a whole lot, to be honest, because I don’t think its on the forefront of the sport, who is going to play the doubles or mixed at the Olympics?”

Whilst the USA does not currently have any representation in the ATP top ten, it has four players in the top 20. US Open semi-finalist Shelton is currently world No. 16 while Tiafoe is one place below him.

McEnroe’s co-commentator Fernadez added: “I do think we’re going to see more of the players, as it gets closer, play some tournaments together, for sure. Those teams would obviously be exciting, the ones John mentioned.

“I think [Caroline] Wozniacki has been talking about playing with [Holger] Rune. The Americans have a lot of options. I think Coco [Gauff] and Jess [Pegula] would be big favourites to win the gold, but then you have great doubles players like Taylor Townsend in the mix.

“It’s going to be exciting. It’s always fun. Doubles, we wish we saw more of the top players playing more consistently.”

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