Rafael Nadal had a rough 2021 season, winning only two ATP titles and failing to reach a Major final. Struggling with injuries, the Spaniard played only 29 matches and missed all the action after Washington in early August due to a left foot injury.
In September, Rafa underwent a minor procedure and returned to the practice court at home in Mallorca. Hoping to get ready for the new season, Nadal played two matches at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, losing to Andy Murray and Denis Shapovalov before returning home for more practice.
Meanwhile, Rafa tested positive for the coronavirus and spent a couple of days at home before hitting the court again. With not much time left to decide on the Melbourne trip, Nadal thought a lot about his next move before opting to start the season as it was planned and test his current physical shape Down Under.
Not knowing what to expect, Rafa signed to play the ATP 250 event in Melbourne and beat three rivals to lift the first ATP trophy since May last year. Ready for more at the Australian Open, the 2009 champion stopped the clock to beat six opponents and find himself in the sixth Australian Open final.
Nadal will seek the record-breaking 21st Major title on Sunday against Daniil Medvedev, making significant progress on the court as many times after the injuries.
Toni Nadal revealed Rafael Nadal's last days before the Melbourne trip.
Nadal defeated Denis Shapovalov in five sets in the Australian Open quarter-final and ousted Matteo Berrettini in four sets in the semis for his 29th Major final.
Rafa's uncle and a former coach Toni Nadal is pleased with his nephew's performance. Toni said it's great to see Rafa in the final after not knowing whether he would play just a few days before the Melbourne trip.
"Yes, I'm surprised because I remember when three days before the start, Rafa called my youngest son to hit a few balls after being quarantined due to coronavirus. At nine o'clock, during training, he said, 'I don't know if I'm going to go or not because at the moment, my condition is not good enough for the Australian Open.'
The following day, he decided, 'Okay, come on, I'm going.' I think it was more the excitement of competing and returning to competition than believing in himself," Toni Nadal said.