Rafael Nadal makes his much-awaited return to professional tennis at the Rome Masters this week. The Spaniard last featured on the ATP Tour during his triumphant run in Acapulco in February, and chose to miss the American hardcourt season due to health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, the 34-year-old spoke about how his priorities have changed over the course of the pandemic and what he is looking for in his return to the European clay swing.
The world has changed over the last 6 months: Rafael Nadal
In his recent press appearances, Rafael Nadal has repeatedly spoken about his decision to restart his season in Rome after choosing to skip the exhibition matches during the pandemic. The Spaniard has since claimed that tennis has been among the last things on his mind over the last few months.
"Actually it has not been tough because I have not competed since the last 6 months. It has been tough because the world has changed in the last 6 months," said the Spaniard.
"A lot of people around us are suffering, lots of families have lost somebody and many are facing economic problems too. So, during the last few months, tennis has been one of the last things I have been worried about," he added.
Rafael Nadal has, however, ensured that he is fit and raring to go at the Rome Masters this year, a tournament that he has always held in high esteem.
"But here I am," asserted Nadal. "I am super happy to be back honestly. Tennis is an important part of my life and I am back at one of the most important tournaments in the world and a tournament that I have always had a great feeling for, one that has always been special for me. Just happy to be back."
Rafael Nadal is the defending champion at the Rome Masters, having defeated Novak Djokovic in the final in the Italian capital for his first title of the 2019 season. The Spaniard is playing the tournament as part of the tune-up for Roland Garros, where he will be the defending champion as well.
By doing well at Rome, the 'King of Clay' will look to strengthen his bid for a record-extending 13th Roland Garros title - which will also be his 20th Grand Slam title, equaling Roger Federer's all-time record