The 20-time Major winner Rafael Nadal trains at his tennis complex in Kuwait ahead of the first competitive match in over four months at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. Last year, Rafa launched his brand-new Shaikh Jaber Al Abdullah Al Jaber Al Sabah International Tennis Complex in Kuwait, bringing that country to the tennis map. State of the art complex includes 18 courts, eight outdoor, eight indoor, an open court with 1,500 seats and a covered arena with over 5,000 seats. The show court staged an exhibition match between Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer on February 5 last year, with world no. 2 beating the Barcelona Open tournament director 6-4, 6-3 after an entertaining battle.
Nadal is back in Kuwait almost two years later, training at his complex and preparing for a clash against Dominic Thiem or Andy Murray in Abu Dhabi on December 17. The 20-time Major winner has not played for over four months, struggling with a foot injury since June and wrapping up the season after two matches in Washington in August. After undergoing a minor procedure in Barcelona, Rafa returned to the practice court at home in Mallorca, working hard on his game and preparing for the 13th edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. Rafa decided to skip the third edition of the ATP Cup and will kick off the 2022 season at the ATP 250 event in Melbourne between January 3-9. The Spaniard is the only top-25 player on the initial entry list, followed by Reilly Opelka, Grigor Dimitrov, Lloyd Harris, Alexander Bublik and David Goffin.
Rafael Nadal trains in Kuwait ahead of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
Rafa is careful in his statements ahead of the return, saying he needs matches to understand where he stands. Nadal played 29 only encounters in 2021, dealing with injuries from the opening weeks and skipping numerous tournaments. Rafa missed the ATP Cup ahead of the Australian Open due to a back injury and defeated four rivals in straight sets at the first Major. The Spaniard wasted two sets to love advantage against Stefanos Tsitsipas before missing all the action until Monte Carlo. The king of clay claimed two titles on his beloved surface in Barcelona and Rome after hard-fought battles and match points saved, hoping for more of the same at Roland Garros. Novak Djokovic halted Nadal in the semi-final after an epic battle in Paris, and the Spaniard withdrew from Wimbledon and the Olympic Games before playing two matches in Washington. Those provided a clear sign for Rafa to finish his season and avoid more severe troubles with his foot injury, hoping for a fresh start in 2022.