Rafael Nadal played just seven official tournaments in 2021, thanks to some physical problems that limited his performance. A back problem prevented him from being 100% at the Australian Open, where he surrendered to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals.
The former world number 1 returned just in time for the clay season, where he posted a couple of titles (respectively in Barcelona and Rome), but he did not express the dominance we were used to. His big goal was obviously Roland Garros, where the Iberian was hoping to put his 21st Major on the showcase.
Heavily handicapped by a foot injury, the 35-year-old from Manacor bowed to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. Due to the incessant pain, the Spaniard was forced to miss Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics and the US Open. Due to his precarious conditions, he could not help but announce the early closure of his season.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion will be back in action in a few days at the prestigious Abu Dhabi exhibition. Rafa has won the last edition of the tournament (staged in 2019) and will face the winner of the match between Andy Murray and Dominic Thiem.
In a recent interview with 'VICE' magazine, Nadal talked about some little-known aspects of his life.
Nadal reveals his favorire footballer
The interview then veered to who his favorite footballer in the world was. Rafael Nadal immediately replied that it was Ronaldo, but also clarified that he meant Brazil's Ronaldo Nazario and not Cristiano Ronaldo.
"The truth is that, with Ronaldo Nazario, I grew up watching him when I was little, and I really liked watching him play many times live," Rafael Nadal said. Living his entire life in the same place, having a few but long-time friends and spending quality time with his family daily are the Mallorca-born Nadal's ingredients for a simple and happy life.
"I have always lived in the same town; I have the same friendships since I was 3 or 4 years old," Nadal said. "I also have a lot of contact with my friends, and practically every day with my family." Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal played one of the most intriguing matches of 2021 in the semi-finals of Roland Garros.
Since August, the Spaniard has stayed away from professional tennis. However, he will soon be back on the tennis court at an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi. Nadal won the last edition in 2019, as the 2020 tournament was canceled due to the pandemic.