Rafael Nadal, the Spanish tennis star, announced that he had tested positive for the coronavirus in Spain on Monday after returning from a show tournament in Abu Dhabi.
Nadal, a former No. 1 and one of the greatest players in the sport’s long history, shares the record for men with 20 Grand Slam singles titles. But because he missed most of the second half of the 2021 tennis season due to a chronic left foot problem, he played only 29 games this season.
His positive test, announced on Monday, casts doubt on whether he will return to the circuit next month for the Australian Open, this year’s first Grand Slam tournament.
“I have some unpleasant moments, but I expect to feel better little by little,” he said. in a post on Twitter in Spanish on Monday. He added: “As a consequence of the situation, I need to maintain total flexibility with my schedule, and I will analyze my options depending on how my situation develops.”
Nadal said he had taken a PCR test after returning to Spain from Abu Dhabi and was now detained at his home in Manacor on the Spanish island of Mallorca. He said he had informed all those he had been in close contact with about his test results, including his wife, sister, father, physiotherapist and two of his coaches, Carlos Moyà and Marc López, according to El País, a Spanish newspaper.
The list of close contacts probably also included Nadal’s two opponents in the Abu Dhabi exhibition: Andy Murray and Denis Shapovalov, who both defeated Nadal.
Juan Carlos, the former king of Spain, took part in Nadal’s match with Murray on Friday and met on Saturday with Nadal and Moyà, according to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.
Nadal is the last tennis star to get the coronavirus. No. 1 Novak Djokovic tested positive for it in 2020. Nr. 2 Daniil Medvedev did it earlier this year, as did Carlos Alcaraz, Nadal’s talented 18-year-old Spanish compatriot, who was forced to miss the Davis Cup final in Madrid. month.
Leading women who have tested positive include No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka; former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu; and Coco Gauff, the up-and-coming American 17-year-old who was unvaccinated at the time of his positive test and had to withdraw from the Summer Olympics.
Unlike Djokovic, who has not revealed his vaccination status, Nadal has been a spokesman for vaccination and said he would follow the upcoming Australian Open’s decision to require players to be vaccinated.
“If people who really know about it say we need to be vaccinated, who am I to create a different opinion?” he said in Abu Dhabi last week.
Nadal said on Monday that he had taken coronavirus tests “every other day” during a visit to Abu Dhabi and Kuwait, where he has a tennis academy. “All the tests were negative,” Nadal said. “Last was on Friday and we got the results on Saturday.”
Nadal, ranked No. 6 after his shortened 2021 season, had to withdraw from Wimbledon, the Summer Olympics and the United States Open this year due to Müller-Weiss syndrome, a congenital foot condition that first plagued him in his early twenties, but as he has long been able to cope with custom insoles and therapy.
This season was a step back.
“I’ve struggled too much with my foot over the last year,” he said in August when he announced his retirement from the US Open.
He returned to Mallorca for rest and therapy and underwent a medical procedure in Barcelona. Since returning to the practice track in October, he has gradually increased the amount of training. The Abu Dhabi event, which features best-of-three-set matches, was his first competition in more than four months.
Even before his positive test for the coronavirus, it was uncertain whether he would participate in next month’s Australian Open.
“As 100 percent honest, I can not guarantee it,” he said in Abu Dhabi.
With Nadal very little fighting game and limited to his home with the coronavirus, the doubt is pretty much bigger now.
An earlier version of this story missed the name of Nadal’s wife. She is María, not Maribel. Maribel is his sister.