Rafael Nadal: Australian Open place uncertain after Spaniard tests positive for Covid-19

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Rafael Nadal’s only Australian Open title to date came back in 2009  (AFP via Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal’s only Australian Open title to date came back in 2009 (AFP via Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal’s place at the Australian Open appears to be in question after he tested positive for Covid-19.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner announced on Monday that he tested positive for the virus on his return to Spain after competing at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi.

Nadal was making his first competitive appearance since August in that event, having been sidelined with a foot injury that forced him to miss the US Open.

He lost 6-3 7-5 to Andy Murray in the semi-finals on Friday before blowing a one-set lead against Denis Shapovalov in the third-place playoff.

“Hi all. 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 was performed on me when I arrived in Spain,” Nadal wrote on social media.

“Both in Kuwait and Abu Dhabi we passed controls every two days and all were negative, the last being on Friday and having the results on Saturday.

“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.”

While Nadal made no specific reference to the Australian Open, which starts in Melbourne on January 17, he admitted he would now have to be flexible in terms of his calendar and tournaments entered.

“As a consequence of the situation, I have to have total flexibility with my calendar and I will analyse my options depending on my evolution,” the Spaniard added.

“I will keep you informed of any decisions about my future tournaments! Thank you all in advance for your support and understanding.”

Speaking over the weekend before testing positive, Nadal said he could not guarantee that he would head to Australia for the first Grand Slam of the 2022 season.

“The idea is to go there and try my best there in Australia ... Being 100 per cent honest, I can’t guarantee it,” Nadal said. “I need to speak with my team.

“It’s more than six months since the last real official match. Things are difficult and I accept that ... I was able to compete in both matches and even had my chances, so if we put that in perspective it’s a very positive thing.

“I went through this process unfortunately a lot of times in my tennis career but I need to practice and I need to be healthy enough to go through this process. If that happens, I’m confident that I will be back.”

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