Rafael Nadal surprisingly takes Washington wild card

World no. 3 Rafael Nadal wasn’t ready to compete at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games this summer following a heartbreaking Roland Garros loss to Novak Djokovic. The 20-time Major champion had planned to compete in Canada and Cincinnati ahead of the US Open, but he has changed the schedule and took the Citi Open wild card! Thus, Nadal will compete in Washington for the first time in a career, trying to join Rosewall, Roche, Ashe, Vilas, Connors, Lendl, Agassi, Edberg, Chang, Roddick, Hewitt and del Potro on the list of champions. Rafa decided to skip Wimbledon for the first time in five years, playing a lot on clay this spring and losing steam and energy. Also, the Spaniard will not seek the third Olympic gold medal in Tokyo, withdrawing from that event and setting eyes on the North American swing. The Spaniard wants to throw everything at the season’s last Major in New York, where he claimed two titles in the previous four years.

Rafa is back on the practice court at his tennis complex in Mallorca, practicing on the hard court and preparing for Washington, where he should be the top seed. Last year, Nadal didn’t travel to the USA for Cincinnati and the US Open, staying at home in Mallorca and looking eager to play in front of the American fans again in a month. Rafa is still ranked in the top-3 despite turning 35, winning two titles in 2021.

Rafael Nadal will play at the ATP 500 event in Washington for the first time.

The Spaniard made a slower start due to a back injury experienced in Adelaide in January, reaching the quarter-final at the Australian Open and losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas despite being two sets to love in front. Staying away from the court for almost two months, Nadal returned in Monte Carlo and experienced the quarter-final loss to Andrey Rublev in three sets. Battling against Tsitsipas again in Barcelona, Rafa saved a match point in a memorable final that lasted three hours and 38 minutes and lifted the first trophy since Roland Garros in October last year.

Alexander Zverev ousted Nadal in Madrid before the Spaniard bounced back in Rome, fending off a match point against Denis Shapovalov and beating Novak Djokovic in the title clash for the 36th Masters 1000 crown. At Roland Garros, the 13-time champion suffered only the third defeat in Paris since making a debut in 2005. Rafa lost to Djokovic in the semis after four hours and 11 minutes of outstanding tennis, wasting too much energy and opting to skip Wimbledon and the Olympic Games to recharge batteries. In Washington, Rafa should face Denis Shapovalov, Alex de Minaur, Hubert Hurkacz, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Milos Raonic, Jannik Sinner, Reilly Opelka, John Isner and Nick Kyrgios. 

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