News ID: 319405
Published: 1129 GMT January 15, 2022

Nadal happy to be back competing again after setbacks

Nadal happy to be back competing again after setbacks
LOREN ELLIOTT/REUTERS

Rafa Nadal said on Saturday he is delighted to be free of injury and illness and is excited about competing at the Australian Open where he will bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title.

Returning to the Tour after recovering from a foot issue that sidelined him for nearly four months, the 35-year-old Spaniard won his 89th career title last week at an ATP 250 tune-up event in Melbourne, Reuters reported.

His preparations for the Australian Open, which he won in 2009, were interrupted last month when he tested positive for COVID-19 following an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi.

Nadal, who was "very sick" for a few days, wants 2022 to be all about tennis.

"I came here just with the clear goal to be back on the Tour," Nadal told reporters. "That's the most important thing.

"Then if I am able to win matches, be improving every single day, fantastic. I'm excited about playing again in a Grand Slam here in Australia.

"Just enjoying the practices and be back and feel myself again a professional tennis player. I'm playing some good tennis."

Nadal, tied with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer for a men's record 20 major titles, was knocked out at Roland Garros in the semi-finals last year and was forced to pull out of Wimbledon and the US Open due to injury.

While unsure about his fitness for best-of-five sets matches, Nadal said getting healthy was his top priority.

"I just want to go day-by-day," added Nadal, who will face American Marcos Giron in the opening round. "But practices help. Every day I spend on court, I think it's positive.

"Every match that I am able to win, it's very important for my confidence, it's important for my physical performance, and you never know what can happen later.

"I want to give myself a chance to keep enjoying this beautiful sport, to keep fighting for the things that I have been fighting for for the last 16 years."

 

‘More confident’

 

Winning his first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows last year showed Daniil Medvedev what he is capable of and the Russian world number two said on Saturday he will go into next week's Australian Open with much more confidence in his game.

Medvedev, who turns 26 next month, won his first Grand Slam title in September when he took down top-ranked Djokovic in straight sets at the US Open.

"It gave me more confidence to any tournament that I played afterwards," said the Russian as he gears up to play his first major as a Slam winner.

"Sometimes before the tournaments I could be a little bit concerned if I was not playing well, let's say, two days before the tournament, I would lose a practice set, I would be concerned, a little bit nervous, sometimes angry.

"It did change this. Now I feel like I know even more what I can do, how I can play, what I have to do to play like this. I'm feeling much more confident than last year in terms of knowing my game, what I'm capable of."

Medvedev began the 2022 season with a defeat to Frenchman Ugo Humbert at the team-based ATP Cup but bounced back strongly to beat his next three opponents, including world number seven Matteo Berrettini of Italy.

He made it to the final of last year's Australian Open where he lost to Djokovic and the Russian could end up as the top draw at Melbourne Park with the Serb waiting for a court to decide if he should be deported after his visa was cancelled.

"Even if Novak is in the draw, I can only see him in the final," said Medvedev, who will open his campaign against Swiss Henri Laaksonen.

"At least, yeah, I need to win six matches before this. It would not change much my preparation for the tournament itself or for any match."

 

 

   
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