Rafael Nadal played just seven official tournaments in 2021, thanks to some physical problems that limited his performance. A back problem prevented him from being 100% at the Australian Open, where he surrendered to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals.
The former world number 1 returned just in time for the clay season, where he posted a couple of titles (respectively in Barcelona and Rome), but did not express the dominance we were used to. His big goal was obviously Roland Garros, where the Iberian hoped to list his 21st Major.
Heavily handicapped by a foot injury, the 35-year-old from Manacor bowed to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. Due to the incessant pain, the Spaniard was forced to miss Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics and the US Open. Due to his precarious conditions, he could not help but announce the early closure of his season.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion will be back in action in a few days at the prestigious Abu Dhabi exhibition. Rafa has won the last edition of the tournament (staged in 2019) and will face the winner of the match between Andy Murray and Dominic Thiem.
In a recent interview with VICE magazine, Nadal talked about some little-known aspects of his life. During the conversation, Rafael Nadal was asked to reveal his favorite soccer player. The Majorcan is a huge football fan, as well as being a Real Madrid fan.
He said: "I grew up watching Ronaldo Nazario da Lima play. I have always admired his deeds and I went to see him live many times." Despite his enormous popularity, the 13-time Roland Garros champion has always led a simple life.
He added: "I have lived in the same city since I was little and have kept the same friends I had as a child. I love spending time with my friends and with my family members." Rafa will compete in the Melbourne ATP 250 ahead of the 2022 Australian Open.
Tiley: "Novak Djokovic will not necessarily be in Australia"
The 2021 season is over and by now the whole circuit is enjoying these mini holidays waiting for the Australian tour. In the first days of 2022 we will start with the ATP Cup, there will be several minor tournaments and at the end of the month there will be the long-awaited Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year.
For the first time for a tennis tournament, athletes, as well as professionals and fans, will also have to have a vaccine requirement in order to play in the tournaments that will be played in Australia. Because of this some athletes see their presence in doubt and the first of these is the reigning champion and world number one Novak Djokovic.
Several times the Serbian has in the past questioned the situation regarding the vaccine and, even today, has not yet specified whether or not he has had the COVID-19 vaccine. In the last few hours, some good news had arrived, but now there was an abrupt and important slowdown.
The organizers of the Australian Open 2022 announced the entry list of the men's and women's tournament and in the men's one, with the exception of Roger Federer, all the best in the world were present.
Novak Djokovic was also in the Entry List and the organizers themselves spoke of a certain presence of Nole ready to defend his title. Tennis Australia director Craig Tiley slowed down and made important statements on the Entry List and on the number one in the world: "The official entry list of the tournament came out and Novak Djokovic was also present.
However, that was only a formality and all this does not mean that he will surely play the tournament." Once again the presence of Nole is questioned and by now only his answers regarding participation are awaited, answers that will undoubtedly arrive in the next weeks of 2021 and before the start of the Australian tour which should see Nole also protagonist in the ATP Cup.