Originally Posted by Monsieur_DeLarge
Given your avatar and comment history, I'll presume this is just a jinx thread.
But if you're serious? I can't see him coming back to form so soon after such an extended layoff. He's surprised me before with his 2010 successes after missing Wimbledon the previous year, but that was nothing like as long a break, and his opposition are all playing better now than three years ago. Remember too that Rafa's only ever won the AO once before ~ yet you're talking like it's almost a foregone conclusion...?
My gut feeling is a quarter-final defeat if he gets an unkind draw (e.g. an in-form JMDP), or a run to the semis if he's paired against someone like Berdych.
People seem to disregard the fact that Nadal was 1 point away from going down 2 sets to love against Berdych in their AO quarterfinal match this year. Nadal had to save a set point or he'd have been in a real mess. Berdych isn't as easy a matchup as people tend to think. Nothing less than Nadal's best will get it done if Berdych is in form. Obviously the AO hardcourts suit Nadal's game much much better than Berdych's game.