Rafael Nadal claimed the fourth US Open crown in 2019 following that epic victory over Daniil Medvedev. The Spaniard didn't defend the title a year ago, staying at home in Mallorca for six and a half months and not traveling to the USA due to the pandemic.
Nadal won the title in Acapulco at the end of February before the ATP locked the season, sending Rafa and all the other players home. Enjoying time with his family and friends on his beautiful island of Mallorca, Nadal stayed away from the practice court for two months, returning to it in May and training on his beloved clay.
As was expected, Rafa decided to skip the Cincinnati Masters 1000 event and the US Open once the season restarted in August, remaining on clay and entering Rome and Roland Garros in September. Speaking about the US Open, Nadal said that it wasn't an easy decision to make, although it felt like the only right one after losing rhythm and not playing for months.
Rafael Nadal didn't play at the US Open last year due to the pandemic.
"I want to say thank you very much from the bottom of my heart to the Laureus Academy. I have had some fantastic competitors. The rest of the sportsmen probably deserve the trophy the same as me, but this was my year, and I can't be happier.
Winning the French Open and equalling Roger Federer's record of 20 Major titles has been an unforgettable moment. It means a lot to equal my great rival, but at the same time, my great friend. It's something extraordinary after all the history we have had together on and off the court.
The pandemic we are facing is unprecedented, and I want to send a message of support to all the families who have suffered or lost somebody. I suppose that the Academy members decided based on the fact that I claimed the 20th Major title and equaled Roger Federer's record.
It means a lot, especially at this stage of my career; it's the most unexpected award in my life. The last year was challenging for all of us due to the pandemic; I would give away my Roland Garros crown if that could have erased everything that happened.
Many people lost their relatives and jobs, and it wasn't easy for me to play again after such a long break. I missed the US Open and had to make the decision. I didn't prepare well for Roland Garros, with only a couple of tournaments in the entire season.
I'm almost 35, and it's not easy for me to win the big events against the younger rivals. I have been here since 2003, and you need a passion to stay competitive for all those years. Also, you have to be ready to adapt, as the sport changes quickly.
I want to continue doing the best thing that I think I do: play tennis. And when my career comes to an end, I hope to fit in well because it will not be easy, although I have an intense life outside of tennis that fulfills me," Rafael Nadal said.