Sports, Tennis

No great expectations for Nadal on return in Abu Dhabi

Published : 17 Dec 2021 09:32 PM

Rafael Nadal returns to competition in Abu Dhabi on Friday with his expectations low after a lengthy injury absence but hopes high of lining up in next month's Australian Open.

The 20-time major champion has struggled with a foot injury for the past six months -- forcing him to miss both Wimbledon and the US Open.

His first event in four months is the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition where the Spaniard will face another former world number one Andy Murray or Dan Evans on Friday.

Nadal is guaranteed to get two matches under his belt in the UAE capital, which will help him assess the progress he has made with regard to his foot.

"It's not about pain. Pain I had a lot of times in my career, almost all the time. It's more about having the chance to have a pain that I can manage to compete well," Nadal told reporters in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

"Let's see, I need to try it in competition. "I know the comeback will not be easy, I don't have big expectations now.

"But the early expectation is to be here, to play in front of a great crowd again, to feel myself competing again against great players and then enjoy.

"I really hope that the foot is going to get better and better to be again at the way and the level I want to be."