Rafael Nadal was forced to miss much of 2021 tennis due to injury to his left foot. The Spaniard did not participate in the Wimbledon tournament and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but still tried to come back to the North American hard-courts season, specifically at the ATP 500 event in Washington.
In the match against Lloyd Harris, lost in three sets, the Majorcan showed that he had not overcome the problem in his foot and ended his season prematurely. In Melbourne, Nadal played his first official match after the long hiatus and won the ATP 250 tournament without hesitation.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion is now busy at the Australian Open, where he reached the round of 16 showing excellent form and where he aims to collect the 21st Major.
Rafael Nadal can't hide now: can glory come?
Rafa, drawn in a portion of the draw where there is no Novak Djokovic, will compete for a place towards the final with Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini, but the Spaniard, with the level shown since the beginning of the season, seems to be the favorite; the declarations of the facade are useful up to a certain point, because Rafa knows that this is a truly unique chance to return to winning at Mebourne Park.
In a press conference, Nadal talked about his physical condition and the doubts that assailed him before the start of the Australian Open. He said: Was the tournament at risk for you? Obviously, yes. All the people around me had a lot of doubts as to whether or not I would play the tournament.
Not just the Australian Open, my return to the circuit was in doubt due to continuing problems with my left foot. Today there are still doubts. It's an injury we can't heal, so we need to find a way to control the pain and be able to play.
That's the goal." Nadal has managed to make significant improvements to his game on fast surfaces over the years: "During my career I have improved on all surfaces. That has always been my goal. I don't know what the keys are.
For many years I had to adapt my game a bit, because I had some physical problems. I think I have improved the serve, the response and the position on the pitch. I probably understand the game better."