Rafael Nadal has suffered yet another setback on his return to action after testing positive for COVID-19. The Spaniard caught the virus on his return to Spain from Abu Dhabi, where he competed in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship last week.
The exhibition event was the Spaniard's first competition following his four-month injury layoff. He played against Andy Murray in the semifinals and Denis Shapovalov in the third place play-off, both of which he lost.
On his return to Spain, Nadal's PCR test showed a positive result.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion took to social media on Monday to inform his fans about the news.
"Hi all," wrote Nadal. "I wanted to announce that on my return home after playing the Abu Dhabi tournament, I have tested positive for COVID in the PCR test that was performed on me when I arrived in Spain."
Nadal said that his earlier tests in Kuwait and Abu Dhabi during his stay in the Middle East were all negative, with the latest reports coming on Saturday.
"Both in Kuwait and Abu Dhabi we passed controls every two days and all were negative, the last being on Friday and having the results on Saturday," the Spaniard wrote.
Nadal further revealed that he is currently displaying some mild symptoms but is hoping for a speedy recovery. Nadal said he had conveyed the news of his positive test to those who were in close contact with him over the past few days.
"I am having some unpleasant moments but I hope that I will improve little by little," he wrote. "I am now homebound and have reported the result to those who have been in contact with me."
Because of this unexpected turn of events, Nadal will have to re-evaluate his schedule for the future and will make an announcement after considering all the options. He thanked everyone for their support and understanding.
"As a consequence of the situation, I have to have total flexibility with my calendar and I will analyze my options depending on my evolution," the World No. 6 wrote. "I will keep you informed of any decisions about my future tournaments! Thank you all in advance for your support and understanding."
What does this mean for Rafael Nadal's Australian Open chances?
Nadal said last week that he wasn't in a position to guarantee his participation at the upcoming Australian Open. His plan was to discuss with his team and see how he felt physically since he had returned to action after a prolonged absence.
"I need to talk to my team and make a decision," he said. "I cannot 100% guarantee my participation in the Australian Open. My plan is to go there and do my best. That is my goal and that is the idea, but I have to see how my body feels after this pair of days. I have some time to make this decision. We will make it as the days go by."
Nadal was on the fence about making the trip to Melbourne and his positive test has further thrown his plans into disarray.
The 35-year-old has just recovered from a persistent foot injury, and if he pushes his body immediately after recovering from COVID-19, the Spaniard runs the risk of doing further damage to his body.
With the Australian Open starting on January 17, there would be short turnaround for Nadal after he ends his quarantine.
The Spaniard would be right to prioritize his health first and delay his comeback to a later date.