Rafael Nadal has admitted he is unsure of when he will return to the match court, leaving him in doubt for the Australian Open. The Spaniard ended his season early after aggravating an ongoing foot injury and has since undergone a “medical procedure”. Despite uncertainties surrounding his comeback, the world No 6 still has goals for his comeback but is reluctant to share them.
Nadal has barely played since suffering a shock semi-final loss at Roland Garros, where he is a 13-time champion.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion subsequently pulled out of Wimbledon and the Olympics, later revealing he had aggravated a left foot injury that stopped him playing tennis for 20 days.
He made a short-lived return at the ATP 500 in Washington, playing just two matches before returning home to consult with his doctor and announcing he would be taking the rest of the year off to heal his foot properly.
After making a return to the practice court, Nadal has now admitted he doesn’t have a clear date in mind for his comeback.
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“I want to recover from the injury to come back in shape,” the former world No 1 was quoted as saying by 20 Minutos.
The 35-year-old was awarded the honour of becoming an ‘adopted son’ of the Mallorcan town of Sant Llorenç des Cardassa after supporting the area during the 2018 floods.
“I do not know when I will play again, but I work a lot every day, I follow a specific plan, with a very clear roadmap and with very clear objectives.”
Speaking to reporters as he received the honour, the Mallorcan added: “I will not say what those objectives are because there are things that I cannot control one hundred percent, but inside my head I am clear about what my objectives are and I trust that things will follow a positive course to be able to try to compete.”
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Nadal also revealed he had “relatively recently” undergone an “aggressive” treatment on his foot, and was putting the work in to ensure he recovered properly in order to make a successful return to the match court.
“I work a lot every day to try first, to recover, and second, when I am recovered, to be prepared to return to play in full condition,” he said.
“I am in a process of recovery, of work, with a progressive increase in loads and the sensations are not measured daily. You have to be a little cautious, look a little in the medium term.”
In true Nadal fashion, the Spaniard is following every piece of advice “to the letter” during his recovery to put himself in the best position, admitting that it was up to his body to allow him to play again.
He added: “Later there are things that do not depend on me, but I trust that what I am doing will give the result that we hope.”
His comments raise questions over whether he will be fit enough to return to competition in time for the 2022 Australian Open, with players expected to board charter flights over the Christmas period in order to arrive in time to complete a two-week quarantine.
His friend and long-time rival Federer was also all but ruled out of the upcoming Grand Slam, as former pro player-turned-pundit Todd Woodbridge told 2GB’s Wide World of Sports’ Radio he thought it was “unlikely” the Swiss star would be competing in Melbourne in two months’ time.
Federer himself ended his season early to undergo a third knee surgery in the space of 18 months, admitting it would be “many months” before he could get back on a match court.