Rafael Nadal had many question marks over his head in the closing stages of 2021. The Spaniard traveled to Abu Dhabi and entered the Mubadala World Tennis Championships for his first matches since August. Rafa could not say much about the GOAT race or any plans for 2022, only wishing to play injury-free and be competitive again. Nadal decided to wrap up the previous season in early August after testing his left foot in Washington. Making small steps and not thinking too far ahead, the Spaniard wanted to play injury-free in 2022, not thinking about results and focusing on his physical strength.
Nadal claimed the 20th Major crown in Paris in October 2020 to save the season. One of the greatest players of all time could not repeat that in 2021, playing only 29 matches and lifting trophies in Barcelona and Rome after dealing with match points. Rafa secured the 17th consecutive season in the year-end top-10, but he stayed away from Major finals. The Spaniard could not fight for Major trophies like in the previous 16 seasons, suffering a tough quarter-final loss at the Australian Open and leaving Roland Garros empty-handed. The 13-time champion failed to secure the fifth consecutive Roland Garros crown, reaching the semi-final and losing to Novak Djokovic in four sets after an epic battle that lasted four hours and 11 minutes.
Rafael Nadal wanted to play injury-free in 2022.
Struggling with a foot injury, Nadal withdrew from Wimbledon and the Olympic Games, taking a couple of weeks off and testing his physical shape in Washington. Competing in the USA capital for the first time, Rafa needed three hours and three minutes to outplay Jack Sock in the decisive tie break. Nadal struggled a lot, but he decided to embrace another match and test his physical strength against Lloyd Harris. The South African beat the Spaniard in three sets after two hours and ten minutes. Rafa decided to wrap up his season after that encounter and switch his focus on 2022. As we all know, the Spaniard has risen above the injuries again in the current season, claiming both Major titles and moving in front of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Nadal has not been able to play injury-free, but he has done enough to make another memorable season already in June and ease the pressure ahead of the upcoming events.
“Let’s see what will happen in the next couple of months. We can talk about the GOAT race and Major titles later in the season if I’m back at my best. My current goal is to make an injury-free return and play competitive tennis,” Rafael Nadal said.