Rafael Nadal looks well on his way to returning to the pitch, which should take place at the Abu Dhabi exhibition next month. The former world number 1 played just seven official tournaments in 2021, still collecting a couple of trophies on his beloved clay (in Barcelona and Rome). The not perfect condition of his foot prevented him from winning his 14th title at Roland Garros, where he stopped in the semifinals in the presence of Novak Djokovic. Due to the aforementioned injury, the Spaniard was forced to miss Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics and the US Open. After attempting to return to hardcourt in Washington, the 20-time Grand Slam champion has decided to close his season early to give his foot time to heal completely. The 35-year-old from Manacor will go on the hunt for his 21st Major at the Australian Open 2022, while Roger Federer has already announced his retirement from the Happy Slam. During a long interview with MARCA, Nadal touched on a wide range of topics related to tennis and beyond.
Rafael Nadal will play in Abu Dhabi
In the run-up the Australian Open, there has been an ongoing debate about whether unvaccinated players should be allowed to participate in the tournament. When Rafael Nadal was asked for his opinion on the issue, the 35-year-old criticized those who are still not taking the jab, while highlighting the severity of the unprecedented crisis. “I understand that there are people who do not want to be vaccinated, but it seems a bit selfish to me,” Nadal said. “We have suffered a lot. We do not know one hundred percent the effects of vaccines, but we do have to trust the doctors, which we do know it is the effect of the virus if we are not vaccinated. It seems that today we 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.” Rafael Nadal then proceeded to talk about mental strength, and how having a solid temperament can help overcome challenges in training and match-like situations. Explaining that things are not always what they seem like, Nadal opened up about the difficulties he has faced. He also mentioned that even the strongest players can take a hit when the demands from the sport get too high. “It [mental strength] is a very important aspect and more [so] in a sport like tennis,” Nadal said. “It is vital to have a base from a young age. People tell me that I am very strong mentally, but I also suffer, like everyone else and I see it very black [sometimes]. But the essence of sport is that despite seeing something [as] almost impossible, you can [still] achieve it.”