Rafael Nadal did his best to put up a challenging run in Melbourne, winning the first four matches without dropping a set and creating a huge two-set lead to love Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarters. Experiencing a massive hit, Nadal dropped three straight sets and hit the starting gate, pulling out of Rotterdam and Miami and heading back to Monte Carlo on his beloved clay.
Aiming for another title in the Principality, Rafa lost in the quarterfinals to Andrey Rublev in three sets before clinching the twelfth Barcelona Open crown. In the final, Nadal endured a tough test from Tsitsipas and beat the Greek in three hours and 38 minutes after fending off a match point.
Alexander Zverev was too strong for Rafa in Madrid, and the Spaniard bounced back in Rome, saving match points against Denis Shapovalov and beating Novak Djokovic in the final to secure his 36th Masters 1000 crown and his first since 2019.
Seeking the fourteenth crown in his Parisian kingdom, Nadal suffered only the third Roland Garros defeat in the semifinals to Novak Djokovic, falling after four hours and 11 minutes and feeling sharp pain in his foot in the fourth set.
Off the court for three weeks, Nadal skipped Wimbledon and the Olympics before testing his foot in Washington in early August. After two challenging matches, the Spaniard decided to close out the season and take over the injury before 2022, eager to extend his career and fight for notable titles again in the coming years.
Rafa on the role of meditation and yoga
When asked to elaborate on his temperament in a recent interview, Rafael Nadal asserted that he likes to compete but that he also makes it a point to keep his emotions in check. Nadal further claimed that he has never "behaved like crazy", and that his philosophy in sport is to never give up.
"I like to compete, but I always control myself on the track," Rafael Nadal said. "I have never lost my nerves or broken a racket. I've never behaved like crazy. My philosophy is never to give up in sports. It happens to me the same when I play golf or soccer with my friends."
He believes it is important to have "positive feelings" during a match, even if things are not going your way. "When you're on court, it's important to control your emotions," Nadal said. "In my case, I practice yoga and meditation to be able to control my emotions when I am playing.
You always have to enter the court with positive feelings. It is important to maintain confidence, even when conditions are not ideal."