Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are still the favourites to win the big titles this year despite their early exits at the 2017 Australian Open, according to Rafael Nadal's coach Toni Nadal.
The world number one and world number two players were knocked out by Mischa Zverev and Denis Istomin in the fourth and second round respectively — aiding Roger Federer and Nadal in their journey to the summit clash in the first Grand Slam of the season, which the former won in five sets over his long-time nemesis.
Federer and Nadal surprised themselves by making the finals at Melbourne Park as they were not among the favourites when the tournament started to make the latter stages. The duo were coming back after knee and wrist injuries respectively, which forced them to cut their 2016 season short, and were not yet fully match-fit coming into the Australian Open.
The Swiss ace was playing his first ranking tournament in six months, while the Spaniard was also playing in just his second tournament after cutting his 2016 season short in October. The latter's coach revealed that Nadal had been suffering from multiple injury problems in recent years and it was the first time in Australia that he was close to his best level both "mentally and physically".
"For years Rafael had injuries. He could not give his best on court, could not have the best attitude and so you lose confidence," Toni Nadal told L'Equipe, as quoted by tennisworldusa.org
"He suffered wrist, foot and knee issues. But since he could play tennis injury-free, he was at a good level again. In Australia he played a good tournament, had a positive attitude and was close to his best level mentally and physically.
"It was only a tournament, we need to wait to see what happens. For me, Djokovic and Murray continue to be the favourites to win the next big titles," the 14-time Grand Slam winners coach warned about writing off Djokovic and Murray after their early exits at the Australian Open.