The 20-time Major winner Rafael Nadal has not played for over four months, struggling with a foot injury since June and wrapping up the season after two matches in Washington. After undergoing a minor procedure in Barcelona, Rafa returned to the practice court at home in Mallorca, working hard on his game and preparing for the 13th edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi between December 16-18.
Nadal will face Andy Murray or Dominic Thiem in the semi-final, hoping to find the form as soon as possible ahead of the start of the new season in Australia. Rafa decided to skip the third edition of the ATP Cup and will play the first ATP tournament since early August at the ATP 250 event in Montreal between January 3-9!
The Spaniard is the only top-25 player on the initial entry list, followed by Reilly Opelka, Grigor Dimitrov, Lloyd Harris, Alexander Bublik and David Goffin.
Rafael Nadal will kick off the 2022 season at the ATP 250 event in Melbourne.
This should be Nadal's only tournament ahead of the season's first Major that starts two weeks later.
Rafa is careful in his statements ahead of the long-awaited return, saying he needs matches to test his current level and understand where he stands. Nadal played 29 only encounters in 2021, dealing with injuries from the opening weeks and skipping numerous tournaments.
Rafa missed the ATP Cup ahead of the Australian Open due to a back injury, heading to Melbourne with no matches in his legs and beating four rivals in straight sets to advance into the quarters. At the Australian Open, the Spaniard wasted two sets to love advantage against Stefanos Tsitsipas before missing all the action until Monte Carlo.
The king of clay claimed two titles on his beloved surface in Barcelona and Rome after hard-fought battles and match points saved, hoping for more of the same at Roland Garros, where he chased the 21st Major crown. Novak Djokovic halted Nadal in the semi-final after an epic battle, and the Spaniard withdrew from Wimbledon and the Olympic Games before playing two matches in Washington.
Those provided a clear sign for Rafa to finish his season and avoid more severe troubles with his injury, taking a break and hoping for a fresh start in 2022.