20-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal returned in action last night at Abu Dhabi after a foot injury which forced him to stay away from the court for more than 4 months. He faced former rival Andy Murray in a semifinal exhibition match at Mubadala World Tennis Championship which he lost in straight sets 3-6,5-7.
Nadal will now head to Australia to start his new season at the ATP 250 event in Melbourne before competing at the Australian Open. He’d desperately want to get back in form as he looked very rusty on court against Murray. He struggled a lot with his first serve and wasn’t able to finish points with winners.
Like Nadal, his friend and rival Roger Federer too has been recovering from injury. The Swiss maestro decided to undergo yet another knee surgery after bowing out to Hubert Hurkacz in the quarterfinal at Wimbledon. He is currently still in recovery and hasn’t started hitting yet. He is expected to start practicing around March next year and could get back on tour around Wimbledon.
After his loss, Nadal was asked about Federer’s whereabouts to which he said that he wouldn’t reveal what conversations they had and added that he isn’t sure when Federer will return. “I am nobody to say what we talk about privately, but yes, I have a very fluid relationship with Roger, we talk very often, I always knew what intention he has on trying to come back but I will not be the one who says when,” he said.
‘It’s just a positive start,’ Nadal on his return
Although Nadal lost the match, he said there were a lot of positives. He was competing after 4 months and said that he played even better than what he thought a few weeks ago.
“I think I did a lot of things well and other things, of course after a long period of time, I need to recover again, some things that when you’re under competition come automatically,” Nadal said after losing to Murray.
“Now I have to think more, or you don’t have this extra time to make the right decisions. In general terms it has been a positive match, I even had my chances to win that second set. It’s just a positive start. I played even better than what I thought a few weeks ago.”