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Sport: Tennis-Nadal happy to be back competing again after setbacks

Open from Australia: Novak Djokovic "knew the conditions" to enter Australia, reacts Rafael Nadal

 Open from Australia: Novak Djokovic after his return to the victorious competition in Melbourne, Rafael Nadal spoke on the misadventures of Novak Djokovic. © Supplied by FranceInfo Rafael Nadal, Trombur of the Lithuanian Berankis 6-2, 7-5 to the 2nd round of the Melbourne tournament, Thursday, January 6, showed few emotions with regard to the situation of Novak Djokovi , blocked by the Australian authorities for a visa problem.

By Sudipto Ganguly

ATP 250 - Melbourne Summer Set © Reuters/LOREN ELLIOTT ATP 250 - Melbourne Summer Set

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal said on Saturday he is delighted to be free of injury and illness and is excited about competing at the Australian Open where he will bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title.

Returning to the Tour after recovering from a foot issue that sidelined him for nearly four months, the 35-year-old Spaniard won his 89th career title last week at an ATP 250 tune-up event in Melbourne.

His preparations for the Australian Open, which he won in 2009, were interrupted last month when he tested positive for COVID-19 following an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi.

What really tripped up Djokovic at Australia's border?

  What really tripped up Djokovic at Australia's border? Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic's Australian visa disaster may be down to a subtle but important difference in the Covid-19 vaccination rules for either playing in the Australian Open or getting into the country. But the difference between the Australian Open's Covid-19 exemption rules and Australia's immigration regulations may have caught out other tennis players or staff, too. Two other players or staff attending the Australian Open are also now being investigated, the home affairs minister has confirmed.

Nadal, who was "very sick" for a few days, wants 2022 to be all about tennis.

"I came here just with the clear goal to be back on the Tour," Nadal told reporters. "That's the most important thing.

"Then if I am able to win matches, be improving every single day, fantastic. I'm excited about playing again in a Grand Slam here in Australia.

"Just enjoying the practices and be back and feel myself again a professional tennis player. I'm playing some good tennis."

Nadal, tied with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer for a men's record 20 major titles, was knocked out at Roland Garros in the semi-finals last year and was forced to pull out of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open due to injury.

While unsure about his fitness for best-of-five sets matches, Nadal said getting healthy was his top priority.

"I just want to go day-by-day," added Nadal, who will face American Marcos Giron in the opening round. "But practices help. Every day I spend on court, I think it's positive.

"Every match that I am able to win, it's very important for my confidence, it's important for my physical performance, and you never know what can happen later.

"I want to give myself a chance to keep enjoying this beautiful sport, to keep fighting for the things that I have been fighting for for the last 16 years."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Editing by Peter Rutherford)

‘You're All Corrupt’: Denis Shapovalov Criticizes Chair Umpire in Loss to Rafael Nadal .
The young Canadian lost his quarterfinals match to Nadal in five sets. Denis Shapovalov, the No. 14 seed in the Australian Open, called out the chair umpire following the first set of his eventual five-set loss to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open quarterfinals. After dropping the first set 6–3, Shapovalov approached the chair umpire, complaining Nadal wasn't ready to play, to which the umpire responded by suggesting the Canadian was not ready either, considering he had walked up to their chair.“Are you kidding me? You guys are all corrupt. You guys are all corrupt,” Shapovalov could be heard saying.

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