Rafael Nadal has updated his schedule for the first quarter of the year. The Spaniard has confirmed that after his participation at the ATP Cup and the Australian Open in Melbourne, he will take part in the ATP 500 event at Rotterdam.
In a statement relayed by tennis journalist Michal Samulski, Rafael Nadal stated that he was looking forward to returning to the Rotterdam event this year after an 11-year hiatus.
"I am looking forward to returning to the Netherlands," Nadal said. "It has been a long time since I went to play in Rotterdam. This year the season has a different calendar and it fits well into my schedule."
The 34-year-old will play in Rotterdam for the first time since 2009, where he entered as World No. 1 and lost to Andy Murray in the final.
"It's a tournament I like to play and hopefully be in their honours roll. I hope to see again all my Dutch friends and fans in Rotterdam," the Spaniard added.
Rafael Nadal joins a long list of big names that have added the Dutch event to their schedule this year. The likes of Daniil Medvedev, Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka and Jannik Sinner have confirmed their participation, while the tournament organizers are also hoping that Roger Federer chooses Rotterdam as the venue of his long-awaited return to the tour.
Rafael Nadal's presence in Rotterdam means that the Spaniard now has a theoretical chance of preventing Novak Djokovic from breaking Roger Federer's record for most weeks as World No. 1. The odds of Nadal overtaking Djokovic before 8 March, however, are very low.
Will Rafael Nadal make history at the Australian Open this year?
Rafael Nadal himself stands on the cusp of making history at the Australian Open this year. Currently tied with Federer at 20, the Spaniard can become the out-and-out record-holder for most Grand Slam titles if he lifts the trophy in Melbourne.
Glory in Melbourne will also mean that the the Spaniard will become the first male player since Roy Emerson to win two titles at each of the four Grand Slam events.
Despite winning the event only once - in 2009, after consecutive five-set epics against Fernando Verdasco and Roger Federer in the semifinal and final - Rafael Nadal has a reasonably good record in Melbourne. In his last four appearances, the 34-year-old has reached the final on two occasions - losing to Federer and Djokovic in 2017 and 2019 respectively - and reached the quarterfinals in 2018 and 2020.
Nadal has been in relatively decent hardcourt form too, having reached the semifinals at the Paris Masters and the ATP Finals after his record-extending 13th title at Roland Garros.
Currently spending his quarantine in Adelaide, the Spaniard is undoubtedly one of the top contenders for the title. Perhaps only eight-time champion and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic can be considered a clear favorite against Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open this year.