Rafael Nadal announces end to 2021 season through injury
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Rafael Nadal is set to miss the ATP Cup in January as he maps out his preparation for the Australian Open. Nadal, 35, has not played since August, after announcing he would be missing the US Open due to a reoccurring foot injury.
Nadal, who also missed Wimbledon and the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics this year, has not played in a Grand Slam event since the French Open in June, where he was denied a fifth straight title following a semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic.
However, he’s now targeting a return to the big stage in Melbourne in January, a venue where he famously beat Roger Federer for his sole Australian Open title in 2009.
His return to court action in scheduled for the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi this month, an exhibition event which the Spaniard has previously won five times.
Nadal technically goes in as the defending champion having won the 2019 edition, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.
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However, Spanish newspaper Marca has reported that the legend’s comeback will not include the 2022 ATP Cup, the team event which begins on January 1 in Sydney and will form part of the build-up to Australia’s marquee tournament.
And seemingly, he won’t be the only player from his home nation to miss out.
The publication stated: “Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz and Marcel Granollers will not be in the team because they have different plans in order to arrive in full condition for the Australian Open.”
Nadal’s desire to be 100% prepared for Melbourne is understandable, with the ‘King of Clay’ eyeing a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam crown.
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The tournament is set to be thrown wide-open with the participation of world no. 1 Djokovic, who like Nadal currently shares the record of 20 Slam wins with Roger Federer, looking increasingly in doubt.
The Serbian has been angered by organisers insisting that players can only participate in Victoria if they’ve received their Covid-19 vaccinations, and is still yet to publicly reveal if he has indeed been jabbed.
His refusal to make the disclosure has been widely viewed as an admission that he’s yet to receive the vaccine.
If the nine-time Australian Open champion is indeed absent, it could open the door for Nadal to capitalise, despite his recent lack of match practice.
And the left-hander has no resentment over vaccination rules himself, previously describing those unwilling to take it as “selfish.”
“We do not know 100% the effects of vaccines, but we do have to trust the doctors – we do know the effect of the virus if we are not vaccinated,” he said.
“It seems that today we [Spain] are the country that is least affected by the virus and I think it is because we have a large part of the population vaccinated.”
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