CM – No great expectations for Rafael Nadal when he returns to Abu Dhabi, high hopes for the Australian Open

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Nadal stated that it was a « hard time » for him, but he is no stranger to injuries and longer breaks from competitions and insists that he still has the fire to achieve more in the sport.

Published: December 17, 2021 13:57 |

Last updated: December 17, 2021 13:57

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ABU DHABI: Rafael Nadal will return to the competition in Abu Dhabi on Friday after a long injury break with low expectations, but has strong hopes to compete in the Australian Open next month. The 20-time major champion has struggled with a foot injury for the past six months, forcing him to miss both Wimbledon and the US Open.

His first event in four months is the Mubadala World Tennis Championship -Exhibition where the Spaniard will meet another former world number one Andy Murray or Dan Evans on Friday. Nadal is guaranteed to have two games under his belt in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, which will help him gauge the progress he’s made on his foot.

« It’s not about pain. Pain, I’ve had many times in my career, most of the time. It’s more about having the chance to have pain that I can compete with, « Nadal told reporters in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

 » Let’s see I have to try the competition. I know the comeback won’t be easy, I don’t have great expectations now. But the early expectation is to be here again, to play in front of a great crowd again, to feel like competing against great players again, and then enjoy it. I really hope the foot gets better and better to get back on track and the level I want to be, « he added.

Nadal stated that it was a » hard time « for him , but he is no stranger to injuries and long breaks from competitions and insists that he still has the fire to achieve more in the sport.

Although he was out almost half the season, he finished 6th in the world rankings in 2021 after he won two titles in Barcelona and Rome and reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros and the quarter-finals at the Australian Open.

In just over four weeks before the Australian Open 2022, Nadal wants to test his foot in Abu Dhabi and work towards it that the trip to Down Under will take place under healthy conditions. « You never really know, » he said when asked about his expectations of Melbourne. In my experience, sport changes very quickly. What seems impossible or almost impossible today, nobody knows what can happen in a month, « he said.

Nadal has been training hard at home in Mallorca and is a new addition to his coaching staff with his good friend Marc Lopez, who won Olympic gold with him in Rio in 2016 in doubles.

« I did a great job at home, practiced well with the right attitude, intensity, worked a lot on my fitness. So if I can do all these things because the foot allows me, you never know what’s next, « said the 35-year-old.

 » I know it will be super difficult for me. If things go well I will only play one tournament before Australia and these two games here. A tough and demanding tournament like Australia won’t be much. But the main thing is still the same to be healthy. When I’m healthy, I still have the inner fire to go on and fight for my goals, « he said.

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