Rafael Nadal’s emotional interview after ‘very special night’ in Australian Open

Rafael Nadal announces end to 2021 season through injury

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Rafael Nadal opened up on his “special” win over Karen Khachanov at the Australian Open. The world No 5 needed four sets to get through his third-round 6-3 6-3 3-6 6-1, but called it the “best match” of his comeback so far, despite dropping a set for the first time since returning from a foot injury a couple of weeks ago.

Nadal was emotional on court as he admitted he had been through some “very tough times” with his foot injury.

The world No 5 had played just two matches since suffering a shock semi-final defeat at the French Open, and shut down his season after the Washington ATP 500 in August to rest and recover an ongoing left foot injury.

He also tested positive for Covid after competing in last month’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition, leaving him in doubt for Australia, but arrived in Melbourne on New Years’ Eve ahead of the ATP 250 warm-up event, which he won without dropping a set.

Playing just the sixth match since his return on Friday, the 2009 Aussie Open champion needed almost three hours to get past the 28th seed, but was in great spirits after sealing the victory.

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“It is a very special week for me, every time I am able to play here is a very special thing,” he said afterwards, in his on-court interview.

“I played against a great player and a good friend on tour, it has been my best match since I came back.”

Touching on the struggles with his foot injury, the former world No 1 added: “For the moment yes, I have been going through some very tough times the last year and a half but for me nights like today mean everything, that is a lot of energy in my pocket to keep going.

“I am super happy, thank you very much everybody.”

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