Rafael Nadal played very little in 2021 due to a chronic foot injury. The pain became almost unbearable during Roland Garros, so much so that the Spaniard failed to win his 14th title in Paris. The 35-year-old from Manacor surrendered to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, conveying the feeling of being far from top form.
The former world number 1 was forced to miss Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics and the US Open, reluctantly opting for an early end of his season. The 20-time Grand Slam champion has undergone a minor foot treatment and will be back on the pitch at the Abu Dhabi exhibition in December.
Rafa hopes to present himself in good condition at the Australian Open 2022, a tournament that has seen him triumph only once back in 2009. The Majorcan will obviously not be able to lead Spain in the Davis Cup finals, where the 'Red Furies' aim to repeat the success of 2019.
The Iberian selection also had to collect the resignation of Roberto Bautista Agut, but will be able to count on the jewel Carlos Alcaraz.
Sergi Bruguera on Rafael Nadal
“It is true that in 2019 we had a great advantage.
When you have Rafael Nadal in your team you become directly the favorite, for me he is the best player in the history of the Davis Cup, but he is not here, so we cannot think about that. We still have a very strong team, several players were in 2019 when we were champions, so they are prepared for this.
Now we have a new young star who is giving us many things” - Sergi Bruguera said. Jim Courier recently gave his views on the Slam race among the Big 3, opining that both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic would likely add to their tallies next year.
Heading into 2022, Courier sees Nadal as the Roland Garros favorite and Djokovic as the man to beat at the other three Grand Slam events. "For Rafa, how is he going to respond?" Courier continued. "How is his foot going to respond after sitting out a lot of this season trying to fix that after it went out on him at Roland Garros? He's still the favorite at Roland Garros - slightly, slightly, slightly over Novak in my opinion - assuming they're both healthy."
Zverev defeated Djokovic and Medvedev en route to winning the 2021 ATP Finals last week. The German also saw off Djokovic on his way to winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics in August, in addition to claming hardcourt titles in Cincinnati and Vienna.