Returning Nadal non-committal about Australian Open after defeat to Shapovalov in Abu Dhabi

The former world No 1 has not yet confirmed his plans for the start of 2022

Rafael Nadal Tennis – Mubadala World Tennis Championship – International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – December 18, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts during his 3rd place play-off match against Canada’s Denis Shapovalov (Panoramic)

Rafael Nadal refused to be drawn on his intention to play the Australian Open after leaving the Mubadala World Tennis Championship empty-handed – losing to Denis Shapovalov in the third-place play-off in a champions’ tie-break, 6-7(4), 6-3, 10-6.

He insisted he would consult with his team and that no firm decision had yet been made regarding his participation in the first Grand Slam of 2022.

“I need to speak with my team. Being 100 percent honest, I can’t guarantee 100 per cent,” he told reporters on Saturday. “The idea is to go there and try my best there in Australia, that’s the goal, and that’s my idea. But we need to come back, see how the body feels after these couple of days, then that’ll be the time to make decisions.

“I go day by day at this moment of my career, and after all the things that I went through, I need to think very well of every movement.”

The Spaniard had said before the Abu Dhabi exhibition event that he had no great expectations for the week as he returned to competitive action for the first time since August following a foot injury.

“I know the comeback will not be easy, I don’t have big expectations now,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“But the early expectation is to be here, to play in front of a great crowd again, to feel myself competing again against great players and then enjoy.

“I really hope that the foot is going to get better and better to be again at the way and the level I want to be.”

Nadal has won the Australian Open only once – in 2009. He reached the quarter-finals in 2021, losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in five despite having a two sets to love lead.

In the Mubadala World Tennis Championship final, Andrey Rublev beat Andy Murray 6-4, 7-6(2).

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