Rafael Nadal Australian Open 2021

Rafael Nadal will not play ATP Cup ahead of Australian Open

Rafael Nadal led his nation to the final of the ATP Cup at the inaugural event in 2020, but has not played it since and will not in 2022.

The 20-time Slam champion is still in recovery from a foot injury as he aims to be fully fit to compete at the 2022 Australian Open, beginning 17th January.

It was a possibility that Nadal would represent Spain at the ATP Cup beforehand from 1st January.

However, that appears not to be the case as his competitive return looks set to be the Melbourne Slam, according to Spanish newspaper Marca.

Before the new season, Nadal will play at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi, from 16th-18th December.

Nadal was set to play the 2021 ATP Cup at the start of this season, but withdrew due to a back injury in order to ensure his fitness for the Australian Open.

He was then on the receiving end of a famous victory for Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals, the Greek rallying from two sets to love down to reach the last four.

In 2022, with the participation of three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic still up in the air, the Slam could present a unique opportunity for Nadal.

Novak’s father, Srdjan Djokovic, recently said he thinks his son most likely will not play in Melbourne in January.

The Australian Open is the only Slam that Nadal has not won more than once, his only title coming in 2009.

He has since reached four finals in 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019. He lost to Djokovic in 2012 and 2019, Stan Wawrinka in 2014 and Roger Federer in 2017.

A second crown in Melbourne would push Nadal to 21 Slams, one ahead of Federer and Djokovic at the top of the men’s all-time list.

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