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Nadal Already in Doubt for Australia, now Positive Covid-19 tests Further Complicates Matters

Rafael Nadal tested positive for Coronavirus. EPA-EFE/JIM LO SCALZO.

By Ricky Dimon

Rafael Nadal’s plans for his comeback at the beginning of 2022 were cast into further doubt when he tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this week. The positive test took place upon his return to Spain after competing at the prestigious Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.

“I wanted to announce that on my return home after playing the Abu Dhabi tournament, I have tested positive for COVID in the PCR test that has been performed on me when I arrived in Spain,” the 20-time Grand Slam champion posted on social media.

“I am having some unpleasant moments, but I hope that I will improve little by little. I am now homebound and have reported the result to those who have been in contact with me.

“As a result of the situation I have to have total flexibility with my calendar and I will analyze my options depending on my evolution. I will keep you informed of any decisions about my future tournaments.”

Nadal, who is vaccinated, was tested multiple times during the Abu Dhabi exhibition and all of those came back negative.

Rafael Nadal of Spain in action against Andy Murray of Britain during their semifinal match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at the International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 17 December 2021. EPA-EFE/ALI HAIDER

As for his on-court exploits at the six-man tournament, the world No. 6 earned a bye as the second seed before losing to Andy Murray 6-3, 7-5 in the semifinals. Nadal split sets with Denis Shapovalov in the third-place match and then succumbed in a super-tiebreaker. Top seed Andrey Rublev took the title, beating Shapovalov in the semis and Murray in the final.

Even prior to the positive coronavirus test, Nadal was in some doubt for the upcoming Australian summer — including the Australian Open. He has not played an official match since Washington, D.C. this past summer, having been plagued by a foot injury dating back to the French Open.

“I need to speak with my team,” the 35-year-old said following his appearance in Abu Dhabi. “Being 100 percent honest, I can’t guarantee 100 percent. The idea is to go there and try my best there in Australia. That’s the goal; that’s my idea. But we need to come back, see how the body feels after these couple of days, then that will be the time to make decisions.

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

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.