When Rafael Nadal cooked for his wife during the pandemic

Rafael Nadal stayed away from the court between March and September last year during the pandemic. The Spaniard claimed the title in Acapulco at the end of February and traveled to Indian Wells before the ATP stopped the season due to the coronavirus. All the players were heading to their homes, with no idea when they would compete again in the troubled times. Rafa returned home to Mallorca and took some time away from the practice court, not hitting a ball for two months and starting training again in May on clay. Spending time with his wife, family and friends, Nadal shared a picture from his kitchen in March, preparing food for his wife and urging everyone to stay home and safe. Nadal finished the 2019 season with the Davis Cup Finals crown, and he led Spain at the inaugural ATP Cup just six weeks later at the beginning of the new season. Rafa scored singles wins over Nikoloz Basilashvili, Pablo Cuevas and Yoshihito Nishioka to push his country into the quarter-final alongside Roberto Bautista Agut.

Rafael Nadal did not play between March and September last year.

Facing the first serious challenge, Rafa suffered a 6-4, 7-6 loss to David Goffin after grueling two hours and 23 minutes before bouncing back in the doubles clash to keep Spain alive in the competition. In the semis, Nadal battled past Alex de Minaur after another marathon to propel his country into the final, where he stood no chance against Novak Djokovic, who beat him 6-2, 7-6 and led Serbia towards the title. Chasing the first Australian Open title since 2009, Nadal ousted Hugo Dellien, Federico Delbonis, Pablo Carreno Busta and Nick Kyrgios to reach the quarter-final, standing one victory away from keeping the no. 1 spot.

Nonetheless, inspired Dominic Thiem toppled Rafa in four epic sets after four hours and ten minutes, standing strong in three tie breaks and allowing Djokovic to become world no. 1 following his ninth Australian Open crown. After Melbourne, Nadal stayed on the road for a week, opening his new tennis complex in Kuwait on February 5 and playing against Roger Federer in Cape Town two days later in front of the record-breaking crowd of 52,000. The Spaniard headed home to Mallorca before conquering the 85th title in Acapulco at the end of February, his last event on the Tour before the pandemic. Nadal returned to action in September and claimed the 20th Major crown at Roland Garros to match Roger Federer and save the season.