Rafael Nadal’s start to the season left everyone speechless. The Spanish champion had just returned from a long stop due to injury and last year he had played just seven official tournaments. Arriving in Melbourne amidst a thousand uncertainties, the former world number 1 has made one of the most unexpected feats of his entire career. The 35-year-old from Manacor recovered two sets behind Daniil Medvedev in the final, undermining his opponent's certainties just when the Russian seemed one step away from the finish line. As if that were not enough, the Iberian also won the ATP 250 in Melbourne and the ATP 500 in Acapulco. Rafa won his first 20 games played in 2022, reaching the final on Indian Wells hardcourt. Also thanks to a fractured rib, Nadal had to surrender to Taylor Fritz one step away from the finish line. The American posted his first Masters 1000 on the showcase, proving that he has made a further leap in quality. Speaking to the Tennis Channel during the Monte Carlo tournament, Fritz revealed that his popularity increased after his victory against Rafa in California.
Fritz speaks about Rafa Nadal
"I think my name's probably known more in Europe especially because I played [against] Rafael Nadal in Indian Wells," Fritz said. "It's nice to be out here in Monte-Carlo and have the fans supporting me and feel the love." The 24-year-old proclaimed that he had the confidence to play his natural game in the absence of strong winds, and appeared happy with the way he played the "big points" of the contest. "It definitely felt like things were going my way, I was playing the big points well. Yesterday, not so much. Conditions were different today," Fritz said. "When it is not super windy, I can trust my shots and have that confidence to go after shots. Today I [felt] good in those moments." After suffering a horrible foot injury in 2021, Rafael Nadal made an incredible recovery, as he started 2022 by winning the Australian Open. After winning the Australian Open, he won the Mexican Open as well, at Acapulco. He looked unstoppable at Indian Wells before his semi-final match against Carlos Alcaraz. It was pretty certain that he was going to miss the Monte Carlo Open. However, he recently announced that he will miss the Barcelona Open as well. Right now, he will be eying a comeback at the Madrid Open to get some preparation on clay before the French Open.
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