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Nadal Arrives in Melbourne, Djokovic Practicing in Spain Prior to Australian Open

Photo Courtesy: Rafael Nadal Twitter.

By Ricky Dimon

Rafael Nadal has arrived in Melbourne. Novak Djokovic may not be too far behind.

Things are gearing up for the 2022 tennis season — which begins on Saturday with the ATP Cup — and two of the tour’s three 20-time Grand Slam champions look like they are ready to go.

Nadal’s status for the Australian Open and other stops on the Australian summer swing had been in doubt because of both a foot injury and a Covid-19 case. The Spaniard lost both of his matches at the Abu Dhabi exhibition earlier this month upon his return from a 2021 foot issue, after which he tested positive for the virus. Now, though, Nadal has reportedly recovered from Covid and has already arrived in Melbourne.

“Don’t tell anyone…here I am,” the 35-year-old posted on Twitter, adding some emojis for emphasis.

Nadal is scheduled to play the Melbourne Summer Set, a 250-point tournament at Melbourne Park, next week. That should give Nadal — and all other participants in the 28-man field — perfect preparation for the Australian Open, which is obviously played at the same location. Other players currently on that 250 entry list are Nick Kyrgios, Reilly Opelka, Grigor Dimitrov, Lloyd Harris, David Goffin, and Botic Van de Zandschulp. Nadal’s last match of 2021 was a loss to Harris at the Washington, D.C. event this past summer before he withdrew from the U.S. Open and all other remaining tournaments.

Djokovic may not be playing the Melbourne 250 and he also withdrew from Serbia’s ATP Cup team, but it looks like he is preparing for the Aussie Open. The world No. 1, who has triumphed in Rod Laver Arena a record nine times, was seen practicing in Marbella, Spain on Friday with the same balls that will be used in Melbourne.

If Djokovic does end up pulling out of the Australian Open because of Covid-19 health and safety protocols, he will join an absentee list that already includes Roger Federer (knee), Dominic Thiem (wrist), and Stan Wawrinka (knee). On the women’s side, Serena Williams remains sidelined and her bid for a 24th Grand Slam singles title will be on hold until at least the French Open.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.