Rafael Nadal is certainly the big draw of the Washington ATP scheduled this week. The Spanish champion returns to competitions after a long absence, as his last match dates back to the Roland Garros semifinal, lost in four sets against Novak Djokovic.
2021 has been mixed so far for the 20-time Grand Slam champion, who has played far less than his standard. His great goal was obviously his 14th triumph at the French Open, which would have allowed him to overtake his eternal rival Roger Federer and climb to 21 Majors.
The former world number 1 did not seem to be in top condition in the main stages of the Paris Grand Slam, so much so that he led some experts to speculate that there was a physical problem. A few days after his elimination at Roland Garros, the Majorcan announced that he would not take part in either Wimbledon or the Tokyo Olympics.
His aim has therefore moved to the US Open, where he wants to prevent Djokovic from making the 'Calendar Grand Slam' In a press conference before his debut in Washington, Nadal took stock of his form.
Nadal on his decision to skip Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics
"Playing in Washington allows me to be on the tour one week before than what I do usually for this part of the season," Rafael Nadal said.
"But missing Wimbledon, I think that's the right thing to do. The decision I think is the right one. Super happy to be here," he added. "[The] tournament organisation is doing amazing." The top seed further expressed some doubts over his fitness levels, but added he would try to give his 100% no matter what the situation.
"I don't know how long it will take to recover everything, but the only thing I can say is I'm here just to try my best in every single moment," Nadal said. "I hope the past couple of days of practices keep helping me to be competitive enough for the first round."
Without any question, Rafa Nadal is one of the most humble tennis players ever. For what’s worth, the 35-year-old has never even banged his racquet head onto the court. But seeing Novak Djokovic do it, he advised that it is best to avoid such things.
“Luckily there were no people in the stands, and nothing else happened, but hey, they are things that happen from time to time. You have to try to avoid them. The image is not the best,” Nadal said in the pre-tournament press conference in Washington, D.C.