Rafael Nadal announces end to 2021 season through injury
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Rafael Nadal’s former coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, has given hope for the 20-time Grand Slam champion to make a successful return to tennis. The world No 5 ended his season early to recover from an ongoing left foot injury, and is targeting a return to competition next year. It has left many worried that the Spaniard’s body could give up on his and force him to retire early, but Toni has reassured fans that his nephew is not ready to hang up his racket just yet.
Nadal ended his season ahead of the US Open, but had played little tennis since suffering a shock semi-final defeat at Roland Garros, where he is the 13-time champion.
The 35-year-old lost to long-time rival Novak Djokovic in four sets and withdrew from Wimbledon and the Olympics shortly after, later revealing he had aggravated a foot injury that left him unable to play tennis for 20 days.
He made a return to competition by entering the ATP 500 in Washington for the first time in his career, winning one tight three-setter and losing another, then flew home to Spain to consult with his personal doctor after travelling to Canada for the Toronto Masters, which he was forced to withdraw from.
The 20-time Major champion then announced he was cutting his season short to give his left foot time to properly recover ahead of the 2022 season.
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Doubts around his comeback have since been raised as Nadal himself recently admitted he was unsure when he’d return to competition.
However, the former No 1 has already made a return to the practice courts, and had admitted he made “objectives” for his comeback, though refused to disclose what they are.
“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,” he told 20 Minutos recently.
In another boost to his comeback hopes, his uncle and former coach has admitted that Nadal will be motivated to make a successful return to the tour as he is yet to win every big title.
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“I‘ve been asked many times how to motivate a guy who has won everything. First of all, Rafael has not won everything,” Toni Nadal told Marca, when asked how his nephew could regain motivation.
“In fact, he has gained absolutely nothing from what is to come. If a guy who is lucky that life has gone well and has challenges ahead of him is not motivated, then he is ungrateful.
“I believe that one has to be motivated in life.”
Nadal has won every Grand Slam multiple times, except the Australian Open, and is yet to win ATP Masters 1000 titles in Miami, Shanghai and Paris.
Toni, 60, who works at his nephew’s Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor and also took on a role as coach of rising ATP star Felix Auger-Aliassime earlier this year, also spoke of the tough training conditions he imposed on Nadal when he was younger.
Toni said: “For years I made him train in bad conditions and with balls in bad conditions.
“Sometimes I told him that we were going to train for an hour and a half and then would extend the training indefinitely.
“All my life I had the obsession to prepare Rafa for difficulty. [He had to] learn to strengthen his character.”
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