Rafael Nadal announces end to 2021 season through injury
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Rafael Nadal has hinted that he and Roger Federer will be back on tour next September. The pair are both recovering from ongoing injuries and ended their 2021 seasons early, but the Spaniard has now made a request to play doubles with Federer at next year’s Laver Cup. The fifth edition of the Ryder Cup-style tournament is set to take place in London’s o2 Arena from September 23 – September 25 next year, and both Federer and Nadal were unable to play this year despite previously representing Team Europe.
Nadal is currently recovering from an ongoing left foot injury, having undergone a medical procedure less than three weeks ago.
The world No 6 has barely played since suffering a shock exit at Roland Garros, where he is a 13-time champion.
He then withdrew from Wimbledon and the Olympics before making a short-lived comeback for two matches at the ATP 500 in Washington, but later flew home and announced he was shutting down his 2021 season ahead of the US Open, and hoped to be back next year.
Meanwhile, Federer has found himself in a similar position and is set to be away from the match court for “many months” after having his third right knee surgery since the beginning of 2020, having suffered a setback during the grass-court season.
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As well as missing the US Open, the friends and rivals were also unable to play in the fourth edition of the Laver Cup – a Ryder Cup-style event co-created by Federer and his manager Tony Godsick that pits Team Europe against Team World.
Federer had been an integral part of Team Europe in all three editions, with Nadal joining him in both 2017 and 2019.
Part of the novelty of the event’s unique format has been seeing top players pair up for doubles and coach each other from their team benches, with Federer and Nadal playing their first doubles match together in the inaugural Laver Cup four years ago.
The 20-time Grand Slam champions were also set to join forces in Geneva in 2019, but Nadal suffered a hand injury that left him unable to play on the final day and Federer was joined by Stefanos Tsitsipas instead.
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The Laver Cup returned for its fourth edition in Boston’s TD Garden over the weekend, and although it was the first year in the tournament’s young history without any of the Big Three representing Europe, the team was able to nab their most dominant victory yet.
With a team of six top-ten players in Medvedev, Tsitsipas, Zverev, Rublev, Berrettini and Ruud, Team Europe lost just one doubles match on the opening day and lifted the trophy with a 14-points-to-one victory.
Though Federer was unable to play in the tournament this year, he spoke of his hopes to be back on the squad next year, when the Laver Cup will be hosted in London’s o2 Arena.
It seems Nadal is keen to get back on the team too, as he took to Instagram to ask his long-time rival to play doubles with him in London.
Sharing the official Laver Cup post announcing The o2 as next year’s official host venue to his story, the 35-year-old wrote: “@rogerfederer doubles next year?”
It’s a positive sign given the pair’s respective injury woes in recent months, hinting that both will be ready to compete in a years’ time.
Federer also offered a hopeful recovery update when he arrived in Boston to watch on from the stands, saying he felt he was over “the worst”.
“There’s no rush with anything, so I’m actually in a really good place. I think the worst is behind me,” he said on Saturday (September 25).
“I took the time and, I don’t know, I’m just really in a good place. I’m really happy.”
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