Rafael Nadal has received a wildcard for the 2021 Citi Open, an ATP 500 event scheduled to begin in Washington on 2 August.
The 20-time Major winner last played at Roland Garros, where he was stunned by Novak Djokovic in a thrilling four-set semifinal. He decided to take a short break after Paris in order to recover from the exhausting clay season, withdrawing from both the Wimbledon Championships and the Tokyo Olympics.
Nadal began his preparations for the hardcourt season at his academy earlier this week. If the recent videos of his training sessions are anything to go by, the Spaniard has seemingly regained full fitness already.
Mark Ein, the tournament director of the Citi Open, took to Twitter on Thursday to express his delight at the fact that Rafael Nadal will be playing at the ATP 500 event in Washington D.C.
"Honored to welcome one of the greatest sporting icons in the world Rafael Nadal to D.C. and our Citi Open for the first time this summer," Mark Ein wrote on Twitter.
Nadal on his part revealed he was "very excited" to go to Washington for the first time in his career.
"I am very excited to come to Washington," Nadal said in a statement. "I have never been there and it's one more place I wanted to come and play. I am looking forward to playing again and Washington shall be the best start for the US Summer Swing for me. Looking forward to seeing again my US fans that I haven’t seen since I won the 2019 US Open in NYC!. Vamos!"
Rafael Nadal will be the first "Big 3" player to particpate at the Citi Open
Rafael Nadal's fellow "Big 3" members - Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic - have never played at the Citi Open. That makes Nadal's participation at the event fairly unusual, but the draw for this year's edition was quite strong even before the wildcard announcement.
Nadal is also expected to play a Masters 1000 event in either Cincinnati or Canada in August before he makes his way to New York for the US Open. The Spaniard triumphed at Flushing Meadows in 2019, but was forced to withdraw from the hardcourt Slam last year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Rafael Nadal will be joined by the likes of Denis Shapovalov, Hubert Hurkacz, Alex de Minaur, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Karen Khachanov and Jannik Sinner at the Citi Open.