After starting the season on the sly due to back problems, Rafael Nadal seems to be recovering more and more during these Australian Open 2021. The number two in the world had even given up participating (he only assisted from the bench) in the ATP Cup with the Spain without its champion, eliminated in the semifinals by Italy.
The Iberian tennis player had talked about these problems even after the first two meetings of this Grand Slam tournament, but today's clear and convincing victory against Fabio Fognini seems to have changed not only the skeptics but Rafa himself who opened the possibility of really win this title.
For him, a path that is far from simple is expected, it must be reiterated, but Rafael Nadal will already try to win his twenty-first Grand Slam title here in Melbourne, thus detaching Roger Federer and becoming the most successful ever.
In the quarter-finals the Spaniard will challenge Stefanos Tsitsipas, a young and talented Greek tennis player who is anything but renouncing, in the eventual semifinal he could challenge the winner of the Russian derby between two of the most fit tennis players of the moment, Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, top Ten in clear growth.
Finally, in the final there are many waiting and perhaps dreaming of yet another clash and revenge of the last Roland Garros against the world number one Novak Djokovic. Rafael Nadal scored a straight-sets win over Fabio Fognini on Monday, to advance to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open where he will meet Greece's Stefanos Tsistipas.
But much of the talk around the Spaniard in the first week has been centered around his iffy back.
Rafael Nadal on playing through an injury
"It depends what kind of injury you have," Rafael Nadal said. "You have something broken, I think you have a strain or your abdominal - for example, I did it in the past, and you make mistakes because it's impossible to know exactly what's going on when you are competing."
Rafael Nadal further claimed he is far more careful about not playing with serious injuries at this stage of his career, since it is next to impossible to win a Grand Slam that way. "You need to find a balance, but of course at this point of my career, if there is a big chance to increase something very important, probably I will not play," Rafael Nadal said.
"Because for me the happiness is much more important than give me a chance to win. And at the same time, if you are bad, you will not win. That's clear. If you have some pain and it's not putting you in a situation that limits you, the movements, maybe you can find a way," he added. "But when you really, really have an injury, it's impossible to win a tournament like this."