Rafael Nadal will compete for the first time in four and a half months on Friday at the 13th edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. The 20-time Major winner will face Andy Murray or Daniel Evans in the semi-final on Friday, hoping to shape his form ahead of the start of the new season in Melbourne.
The Spaniard struggled with a left foot injury since June, falling to Novak Djokovic in the Roland Garros semi-final after four hours and 11 minutes and skipping Wimbledon and the Olympic Games. In August, Rafa played two matches in Washington and decided to call it a season and care for his injury.
The Spaniard is ready to step on the court again, making no predictions about his upcoming results and only wishing to compete injury-free. Speaking about the GOAT race in Abu Dhabi, Rafa reminded that Novak Djokovic had a massive advantage over him and Roger Federer in the season behind us, embracing a regular schedule.
At the same time, he and Roger missed numerous tournaments due to injuries and failed to reach Major finals. Roger skipped the Australian Open and the US Open, scoring seven wins at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and losing to Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-final at the All England Club.
Rafael Nadal spoke about his greatest rivals in Abu Dhabi.
Rafa experienced a tough loss at the Australian Open to Stefanos Tsitsipas before losing that epic Roland Garros encounter to Novak, leaving Court Philippe-Chatrier with his head down only for the third time in a career!
Unlike Roger and Rafa, Novak was the dominant figure at Majors, scoring 27 victories in 28 encounters and joining his greatest rivals on 20 titles. Novak claimed the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon titles before reaching the US Open final, moving a win away from the first calendar Grand Slam since 1969 and tennis glory.
The Serb failed to make that one last step and celebrate the 21st Major crown, losing to Daniil Medvedev in straight sets but standing as the favorite to finish the GOAT race at the top in the years to come. "I understand that the conversation is always there.
It's primarily related to Novak, who has been playing almost every week, unlike Roger and I, who have been injured for such a long time. Of course, we are equal on Major titles, but the chances for Novak are much higher than for us because he's healthy and competing, and he's doing well.
Let's see what can happen in the next couple of months. If I'm back at my best again, we can be talking about that later in the season. My current goal is to make a comeback and be healthy and competitive," Rafael Nadal said.