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Rafael Nadal set to play Australian Open as Spaniard’s plans for Grand Slam come to light

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Despite some initial fears, tennis great Rafael Nadal will be in Melbourne to compete at the Australian Open next month.

Rafael Nadal is set to play in January’s Australian Open in Melbourne. The Spaniard has outlined his plans to continue to compete for Grand Slam events through the latter stages of his career and is set to take part in the opening major of 2022 in January.

Nadal’s chances of playing down under were thrown into jeopardy earlier this month, after the tennis great tested positive for COVID-19 after competing in an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi.

However it seems this hasn’t hindered any plans to compete in the Australian Open, after booking in to play an ATP 250 event in Melbourne in preparation for the opening Grand Slam of the year.

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There had been real fears that the sport’s big three – Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer – were all set to miss the event.

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This came after Federer ruled himself out through injury, whilst Djokovic’s chances of competing remain unknown after refusing to reveal his COVID-19 vaccination status.

Further fears for tournament organisers then grew following Nadal’s positive case, however it now seems at least one of tennis’ headline acts will be in Melbourne come the 17th of January.

This has been further cemented after Australian Open chief executive Craig Tiley eased fears that Nadal would not be competing.

Tiley revealed he was ‘confident’ the Spaniard would be making the trip to Melbourne earlier this week.

And the 35-year-old was spotted training at his academy in Mallorca on Wednesday, indicating he will be fit for his trip Down Under. It is thought he will fly out next week.

Injury once again blighted Nadal’s season last term, as the 20-time Grand Slam winner has not featured in a competitive event since the ATP Washington in August of this year

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Despite this the Spaniard feels he is still more than capable of competing at the highest level – where he has been dominant for so many years – as he eyes a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam victory before he bows out from the court.

Speaking after his exhibition event in Abu Dhabi this month he admitted that as long as he feels he is still able to compete at the highest level, he will carry on playing – despite recent rumours of a possible retirement.

He said: “I still believe that I will be competitive enough to give myself chances to compete for the things that I have been competing for the last 15 years.

“If not, personally, it doesn’t make sense (to continue).

“I am not playing at all for money or just for fun; I am playing to keep achieving goals or at least to enjoy the process to try to achieve my goals.

“If then you don’t achieve, it’s fine, but the motivation and the passion are still there.”

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