Rafael Nadal has been able to extend his career thanks to a skilful management of the body combined with a revision of his calendar. However, physical problems returned to haunt him in 2021, a year that the Majorcan will want to forget as soon as possible.
Back and foot injuries prevented him from playing continuously, although the 35-year-old Spaniard still managed to put two titles on the board (on clay in Barcelona and Rome). The Spanish veteran did not hit the big goal of his season, namely Roland Garros, where he hoped to conquer his 21st Major (thus detaching Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic).
After missing Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics to rest his foot, Rafa returned to the field on the Washington fast, but his first experience in the US capital lasted just a couple of matches. A few days later, the 20-time Grand Slam champion announced that he wanted to close his 2021 prematurely.
As a guest of the 'Tres Iguales' podcast, his uncle Toni provided some updates on his nephew's condition.
Uncle Toni on Rafael Nadal
"The truth is that when Rafael Nadal emerged, you could see that Roger was going to be one of the best in history.
As soon as we saw Novak, we realized that he was special. As for Rafa, it was when he completed the Grand Slam, with 24 years, when I knew that he would fight to be the best in history. His progression has always been highly conditioned by the congenital foot injury, which he now suffers, for that reason everything he has achieved has a lot of merit.
In any case, he He is encouraged and I think he will get over this once again. I am optimistic and my feeling is that 2022 may be a good season for him and that he has 2 or 3 good years left, but as time progresses, everything is more complicated" - Uncle Toni stated.
“When he was a kid I always wanted to make him a mix between Vilas and Connors. Making him a very intense player was essential, but I also wanted him to make winning shots. I spent many years working the forehand with him so he could hit winning shots in any situation and his ability to improve, especially with the cross backhand, was decisive."
Nadal is not only an icon in Spain but he’s an entity celebrated by the entire world. His sporting achievements and humility off the court are an inspiration to one and all. And even at 35, he continues to contribute to the sport with all that he’s got.