After ending the strangest season in tennis history due to the appearance of the coronavirus and all the consequences that this pandemic has brought, tennis returns to work. After 16 days of vacation, Rafa Nadal returned to the tracks of his academy with my mind set on the next season where It has many incentives despite the fact that we are facing his 20th year as a professional tennis player.
The manacorí always looks for a way to improve himself, to improve every day, so that each training session is a new adventure where there is no lack of motivation to be a little better if possible. He is very self-demanding and constantly seeks excellence.
For the illusion to remain installed in your mind and in your tennis, it is important to have goals to achieve on the horizon. Although his philosophy has always been to go game to game and tournament to tournament and that he insists that he has achieved much more than he ever dreamed of, 2021 is presented as a year with five clear objectives that you would like to fulfill and for which you will fight. Let’s see.
1. Recover the number one in the ATP ranking
One of the main objectives of Rafa Nadal will return to the top of the ATP ranking that today holds Novak Djokovic. The Mallorcan lost the status of number one in the world on February 3, 2020 in favor of the Serbian tennis player after 12 consecutive weeks holding this honor. And without a doubt you will want to recover it not only because of the prestige it entails but above all because of the advantage you acquire in the tables of the different tournaments. It will not be easy for the manacorí to catch up with ‘Nole’, since they are separated by 2,180 points. In 2020 Rafa won two titles (Acapulco and Roland Garros), while Djokovic won four (Australian Open, Dubai and Masters 1000 in Cincinnati and Rome). In this sense, Nadal could have an advantage, but this will not be the case in these first months because with the COVID-19 pandemic, the ATP decided to ‘freeze’ the ranking until March 8. Until then the tennis players do not defend points, so they do not subtract, they only add.
2. Overtake Federer in Grand Slams won
Nadal has had the bad or good luck, depending on how you look at it, to coincide with Federer and Djokovic at the same time. Tennis fans are very lucky to be able to enjoy the three best tennis players in history simultaneously. This rivalry has undoubtedly made them better and among themselves they fight to be the tennis player with the most Grand Slams of tennis history. The current figures are stratospheric: Federer and Rafa have won 20 while ‘Nole’ has 17 in his record. The manacorí has lifted the title in Australia once, thirteen at Roland Garros, two at Wimbledon and four at the US Open. They would be incredible figures if it weren’t for the fact that Federer is also 20 and overcoming him is a challenge that Rafa has between his eyebrows. At the Australian Open in February, the Balearic Islands will have the first opportunity to do so. Without a doubt, the Manacor will arrive in better shape at the first Grand Slam of the season than the Swiss, who comes out of an injury and remains a doubt. Djokovic, with 8 titles, will also have the challenge not to let his rivals escape in the ‘Big’ race.
3. Raise the 14th Roland Garros of his career
No one has managed to win the same Grand Slam more than 13 times in history. Not 12, not 11, not 10, not even 9. Only Nadal has lifted the Roland Garros torfeo 13 times. It is a complete outrage but Rafa’s ambition on the Parisian track is eternal and without a doubt in 2021 he will go for the fourteenth title. It is his talisman tournament and it is on land where he has achieved his best results, with which he will also seek the 12th Monte Carlo, 12th Barcelona and 10th Roima among others if the coronavirus allows it this year. Winning for the fifth time the Master 1,000 in Madrid, where he feels at home, will surely also be in the red on his agenda for this 2021 that he hopes to start off on the right foot in Australia.
4. Major tournaments that resist you
In the section of nailed thorns, Rafa Nadal has some that every year ‘bother’ and tries to get rid of him. The fattest and the one that hurts the most is undoubtedly the Masters Cup now called ATP FInals. The Spaniard has never been crowned master and it hurts. Last November the manacorí reached the semifinals but Daniil Medvedev, later champion, separated him from the title.
Nadal also has to conquer three Masters 1000, the one in Miami, the one in Shanghai and the one in Paris. He undoubtedly wants them on his record before retiring and will seek to get them in 2021.
5. The gold medal at the Olympic Games and the Davis Cup
The Olympic Games They are also a very important appointment for Rafa Nadal. It is one of the few opportunities he has to play defending the country and this motivates the Balearic tennis player a lot, who has already won the gold medal in Beijing 2008 in the individual modality and in Rio de Janiero 2016 in doubles.
But after 13 years, in Tokyo the world number two will seek to climb to the top of the podium Again in the individual tournament and, if he can get the double, it would be the perfect culmination for him to what could be his last Games if we take into account that Rafa would be 37 years old at the Paris 2024 Olympic event … although you never know And if not, ask Federer that with 39 he is still at the highest level.
The Davis Cup will also be among Rafa Nadal’s goals in 2021. The 2020 edition was postponed and will be held from November 22 to 28 next year in the new format that debuted in 2019 by Kosmos. Rafa loves playing as a team and winning even more.
Recover the heat of the public, the most important thing
The titles, the cups and the medals are very good, but the most important thing for any tennis player is to be able to share their successes with the fans. Despite the fact that after almost a year it seems that we are getting used to seeing sporting events without spectators in the stands, the reality is that for athletes the warmth of the public is almost essential.
Although it is true that tennis is a sport where the main rule of the stands is that silence reigns, the applause before an extraordinary point, the encouragement in the small periods of time between point and serve, the encouragement of the team and the family in the box or the always feeling that you are showing your best version to thousands of people live is the essence of this sport.
The return of the public is another of the 2021 goals not only for Rafa but also for tennis and sports in general. At the moment the Australian Open puts 25% of the tickets of its capacity on sale, it is a first step to gradually recover the normality truncated by the coronavirus. Nadal will have an added motivation if he has his audience in the seats to help him meet his challenges.