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ATP News: Nadal Warming To A Return Down Under
Wednesday, 12/15/2021
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Nadal’s comeback begins at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition event this month, before kicking off in earnest in an ATP 250 event in Melbourne – a warm-up event to the highly anticipated Australian Open where Nadal and Djokovic will be bidding for a historic 21st Grand Slam title. As things currently stand, Djokovic is the top bet to win while Nadal is the third-best bet on the tennis odds board with multiple top bookmakers.

Rafael Nadal’s long-awaited comeback is almost upon us! Tennis fans rejoice!

Rafael Nadal is poised to make his ATP Tour return from left-foot injury Down Under, starting his 2022 campaign in an ATP 250 event in Melbourne before heading to the Australian Open.

According to bookmakers, Nadal is the third-best bet to win the Australian Open after top favorite Novak Djokovic and second favorite Daniil Medvedev. But a winning return to competitive play at the Great Ocean Road Open could improve his Australian Open odds before the first major of the year gets underway.

Nadal Makes Mubadala World Tennis Championship Return
Nadal was forced to call time on his 2021 campaign due to a foot injury at the start of the American hard-court swing in the summer. The foot injury began plaguing the Spaniard early in the summer, prompting him to withdraw from the Wimbledon Championships and Tokyo Olympics. He attempted a return a few months later and played his last competitive match at the Citi Open in Washington on August 6 when he lost in the Round of 16 to South Africa’s Lloyd Harris in a three-set thriller 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.
Since then, it was unknown how long the injury would keep him out of the game, or if he would return at all in time for the start of the 2022 ATP season.

But last month, three months after hanging up his racquet, Nadal delighted his legions of ardent fans around the world when he announced his return to tennis at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition event, which will run from December 16 to 18.
The Spaniard will spearhead a Mubadala World Tennis Championship line-up that includes Andy Murray, Dominic Thiem, Andrey Rublev, Casper Ruud and Denis Shapovalov.
The 35-year-old even recorded a video message for his fans in which he shared his excitement to be heading back to Abu Dhabi for the prestigious event.

"Hello everyone, Rafa here, I am very happy to be back at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi," Nadal said in the video message. "I hope to see you there." Click here for video message on Twitter.

Nadal’s return to tennis coincides with the return of the Abu Dhabi warmup event in 2021. Nadal was the event’s last champion (2019), beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final 6–7, 7–5, 7–6.
A staple on the annual calendar since 2009, and a popular go-to destination for the game’s biggest stars in the lead-up to the start of the ATP and WTA Tours, respectively, the exhibition tournament was cancelled, as were many other major events around the world, due to the coronavirus pandemic last year. 
Nadal To Open Season at the ATP 250 in Melbourne
While Abu Dhabi is an exhibition event, it will nevertheless provide valuable insight into the Spaniard’s form ahead of the New Year and the beginning of a brand-new season. Crucially, how his left foot holds up in competitive play and whether he’s at 100% fitness (or close to it) is something you can bet the tennis world – from players and fans to the punditocracy and oddsmakers – will be paying close attention to.
Nadal’s fitness will not only ensure he does make the trek Down Under, but it will likely augment his odds as the top of the tennis picks to win the Australian Open. At of the time writing the article he comes in as the fourth favoured to win at +1200. Leading the pack is Novak Djokovic at +150, Daniil Medvedev at +250 and Alexander Zverev at +450. All four players are capable of winning on any given day which will add to the excitement at the begging of 2022.

Nadal, along with Novak Djokovic, will be bidding for an incredible, historic 21st Grand Slam Title, and having both of these tennis greats competing in Melbourne in peak form would be a dream come true for the tournament’s organisers and fans the world over. The rivalry between the pair has been one of the best rivalries in sport, never mind just tennis.
Of their many battles, the greatest, arguably, took place on Rod Laver Arena almost ten years ago when Djokovic survived a marathon five-setter to clinch the title over Nadal. The Serbian starlet beat Nadal 5–7, 6–4, 6–2, 6–7, 7–5 in the longest Grand Slam final match in history lasting 5 hours and 53 minutes.

Just recently, the 20-time Grand Slam champion and current World No.6 announced he would kickstart his 2022 campaign Down Under, beginning with the ATP 250 event in Melbourne – the Great Ocean Road Open.

Nadal will headline a star-studded cast in Melbourne, which includes former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori, former World No.5 Kevin Anderson and former ATP Tour Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov, amongst several others. 

Last season, Nadal competed at the ATP Cup where he represented Spain with his ATP compatriots in the unique round-robin tournament. Although Nadal is giving the event a skip this year, it’s not going to be short on star power. Many of the game’s biggest stars are expected to feature in the 2022 ATP Cup, including Djokovic, Medvedev and Alexander Zverev, amongst several others.

Nadal hasn’t won the Australian Open since beating Rodger Federer in an epic five-set thriller in 2009. He was a finalist in 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019. Last season, Nadal lost in the quarterfinals to Tsitsipas in a five-set marathon 6-3, 6-2, 6-7(4) 4-6, 5-7.