Rafael Nadal’s start to the season left everyone speechless. The Spanish champion had just returned from a long stop due to injury and last year he had played just seven official tournaments. Arriving in Melbourne amidst a thousand uncertainties, the former world number 1 accomplished one of the most unexpected feats of his entire career.
The 35-year-old from Manacor recovered two sets behind Daniil Medvedev in the final, undermining his opponent's certainties just when the Russian seemed one step away from the finish line. As if that were not enough, the Iberian also won the ATP 250 in Melbourne and the ATP 500 in Acapulco.
Rafa won his first 20 games played in 2022, reaching the final on Indian Wells hardcourt. Also thanks to a fractured rib, Nadal had to surrender to Taylor Fritz one step away from the finish line. The American posted his first Masters 1000 on the showcase, proving that he has made a further leap in quality.
Speaking to the Tennis Channel during the Monte Carlo tournament, Fritz revealed that his popularity increased after his victory against Rafa in California: "My name is much better known in Europe than before, thanks above all to the victory against Rafael Nadal in Indian Wells.
“I am confident and I am expressing great tennis even on clay. My goal is to keep improving, I want to become as complete as possible." In a long interview for the ATP website, Casper Ruud paid tribute to Nadal: "He has the ability to play every point as if it were the last in his life.
This characteristic of him emerges even more clearly on earth. He makes very few gratuitous mistakes, keeps the pace high and doesn't allow his opponents to breathe. Clay is more challenging than other surfaces, as longer rallies are played and match duration increases.
As soon as you shorten it, Rafa puts his feet on the court and kills you."
But Nadal in the meantime...
It was announced that the Spanisg champion Rafael Nadal will not even be present at the Barcelona Open. His team said to Reuters: "Rafa will also have to give up the Barcelona tournament.
We still don't know what his first clay tournament will be this year The 21-time Grand Slam champion will try to compete in the Masters 1000 in Madrid and Rome, the last major events before Roland Garros. Nadal's goal is to reach 100% in Paris, where he will go after his 14th seal.
The former world number 1 clinched the Melbourne ATP 250, gaining the confidence to break the bank at the Australian Open. In a tournament that had often been hostile to him in the past, the 35-year-old from Manacor achieved one of the most unexpected feats of his entire career.
After surviving two real battles against Denis Shapovalov and Matteo Berrettini, the Iberian came back two sets behind Daniil Medvedev in the final. Thanks to that triumph, Nadal overtook Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the all-time rankings of the Majors.
Rafael Nadal is the author of an exceptional start to the season. Fresh from a long stop due to injury, there were no great expectations of him in these first months of 2022. Many believed that the Spaniard's career was almost over, considering that Rafa had played just seven tournaments officers last year.
As if that were not enough, Rafa also imposed himself in the prestigious Acapulco tournament. The Spaniard then reached the final in Indian Wells, yielding to Taylor Fritz in two sets. During the semifinal against Carlos Alcaraz, Nadal sustained a fractured rib. For the first time since 2005, he was therefore forced to skip the Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo.