2021 was certainly not a memorable year for Rafael Nadal. The former world number 1 has played just seven official tournaments due to a chronic foot injury. The Spanish champion was forced to miss Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics and the US Open, having to close his season well in advance.
The pain in his foot intensified during Roland Garros, where Rafa was hoping to win the 21st Grand Slam of his career. The Majorcan gave everything he had in Paris, but had to surrender to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. After undergoing a small foot treatment, the 35-year-old from Manacor has returned to training for a few weeks and will test his condition in the prestigious Abu Dhabi exhibition.
Should there be no further setbacks, Nadal will then fly to Melbourne for the Australian Open 2022. The possible absence of Novak Djokovic would fuel the chances of the Iberian, who won only once at the 'AO' back in 2009. The 20-time champion Slam has been awarded the 'Popular Award of Honor' in recent days.
The celebration allowed the media to ask him a few questions.
Nadal still plans on competing in Abu Dhabi
"Until things are 100% sure, I can't say much, in the end I don't know either. As I mentioned some weeks ago, my idea is to be in Abu Dhabi and play there on the 17th & 18th, and that's still my plan.
However things are being analyzed week by week, as always, keeping in my mind that I want to return as early as possible, but above all I want to return being in good shape" - Rafael Nadal stated. "You don't know until you increase the load and test yourself at the highest level.
For now I'm doing what I have to do right now, what I've been told. I'm usually quite obedient & what I'm told to do is what I do. I'm currently in that process. Things are better than before, otherwise I'd not consider going to Abu Dhabi.
But I don't know what will happen in the future. Abu Dhabi is a test for me and I'm motivated to be there" - he added. As the 2021 season is coming to an end, fans are already looking forward to the beginning of the 2022 season.
The first tournament in the new year will be the ATP Cup 2022. In the upcoming third edition of the competition, there’s unfortunate news for Team Spain. The 2o-time Grand Slam champion, Rafael Nadal, will not be leading his nation next year.
Along with that, Carlos Alcaraz and Marcel Granollers are also missing out on the tournament in Australia.