Rafael Nadal stayed away from the court between March and September of last year during the pandemic. The Spaniard claimed the title in Acapulco in late February and traveled to Indian Wells before the ATP halted the season due to the coronavirus.
All the players headed home, with no idea when they would compete again in tough times. Rafa returned to his home in Mallorca and took time off the practice court, without hitting a ball for two months and began training again in May on clay.
Spending time with his wife, family and friends, Nadal shared a photo of his kitchen in March, preparing food for his wife and urging everyone to stay home and safe. Nadal ended the 2019 season with the Davis Cup Finals crown, and led Spain to the inaugural ATP Cup just six weeks later, at the start of the new season.
Rafa scored individual victories over Nikoloz Basilashvili, Pablo Cuevas and Yoshihito Nishioka to lead his country to the quarterfinals alongside Roberto Bautista Agut. Heading into the first serious challenge, Rafa suffered a 6-4, 7-6 loss to David Goffin after a grueling two hours and 23 minutes before bouncing back in the doubles clash to keep Spain alive in the competition.
In the semi-finals, Nadal edged out Alex de Miñaur after another marathon to propel his country to the final, where he had no chance against Novak Djokovic, who beat him 6-2, 7-6 and led Serbia to the title.
Swiatek comments on Rafa Nadal
It is common knowledge that Rafael Nadal is Iga Swiatek‘s childhood idol.
Earlier, on the ATP Cross Court show, she also explained that her admiration for him is not only about the game. However, specifically about the training, the Pole admitted that Rafa did not play as himself. But Swiatek also felt that his topspin was as good as he hits during a live match.
“Tennis-wise, I don’t think he was playing 100%,” Swiatek laughed nervously. “First of all, I was so excited because that was my birthday present from my psychologist. I was not expecting that at all. Since Nadal is not playing Indian Wells this year, Steve Weissman from Tennis Channel asked Swiatek who she wanted to practice with from the main draw.
And she took the name of three-time Grand Slam champion, Andy Murray. "That’s a tough one. I would say, I would love to play with Andy Murray. We had a little chat on Twitter, so maybe it’s possible right now to finally play. He also seems like such a nice guy; a good sense of humor,” Swiatek explained.