Rafael Nadal: 'My plan is to compete in Abu Dhabi and see how things will develop'

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Rafael Nadal: 'My plan is to compete in Abu Dhabi and see how things will develop'

The 20-time Major winner Rafael Nadal appeared at the 42nd annual Gala of the Popular Awards of Cope Mallorca, where he received the Popular Honor Award. Rafa will wrap up the season in the top-10 for the 17th straight year despite not competing his August and staying at under 30 matches in 2021.

Since June, the Spaniard has been dealing with a foot injury, skipping Wimbledon and the Olympic Games and testing his physical shape in Washington before deciding to call it a season and focus on 2022. After minor surgery, Nadal started practicing again and will compete at the 13th edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at Zayed Sports City's International Tennis Centre in Abu Dhabi between December 16-18.

Careful in predictions after such a long break, Nadal can not say much about his form or expectations, waiting for the first matches to assume his current level and where he stands ahead of the new season. Dealing with injuries, Nadal skipped some important tournaments this year and competed at only two Majors and three Masters 1000 events.

The Spaniard claimed titles in Barcelona and Rome before experiencing a tough Roland Garros semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic in over four hours. Rafa will face Andy Murray or Dominic Thiem in the semi-final in Abu Dhabi, eager to compete again and find out more about his game after a couple of months on the practice court.

Rafa is the defending champion in Abu Dhabi, battling against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final two years ago and prevailing 6-7, 7-5, 7-6 in epic three hours and 12 minutes.

Rafael Nadal will return at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.

The Spaniard served for the opener at 5-4 but got broken and lost the tie break 7-3 for a setback.

Rafa fended off break chances at 4-4 in set number two to remain in contention and claimed it 7-5 with a volley winner to introduce a decider. The Spaniard opened a 4-2 gap before losing serve in the seventh game to keep the rival in contention.

The more experienced player stayed prepared in the tie break and grabbed it 7-3 to seal the deal and celebrate the fifth Mubadala World Tennis Championship title. "Until I have things 100% clear, I can not say much; in the end, I do not know either.

As I said a few weeks ago, my idea is to be in Abu Dhabi, and that's still my plan. After that, things will be taken week by week, as always when you make a comeback and want to compete at your best. You do not know where you are until you increase the number of matches and test yourself at the highest level.

At the moment, I have to follow a specific pattern. Things are better than before; otherwise, I would not consider going to Abu Dhabi. What will happen from now on? I do not know; Abu Dhabi is a test for me, and I'm looking forward to being there," Rafael Nadal said.