Dec 22 (The New York Times) – Rafael Nadal has tested positive for Covid-19 after returning home from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion was beaten by Britain’s Andy Murray in the semi-finals of the exhibition event on Friday.
Nadal said he had experienced some “unpleasant moments” but hopes to improve “little by little”.
The 35-year-old has only just returned to action after a long injury lay-off.
Nadal wrote on Twitter: “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.
“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.
“I am having some unpleasant moments but I hope that I will improve little by little. I am now homebound and have reported the result to those who have been in contact with me.
“As a consequence of the situation, I have to have total flexibility with my calendar and I will analyse my options depending on my evolution.
“I will keep you informed of any decisions about my future tournaments! Thank you all in advance for your support and understanding.”
Nadal made his comeback in Abu Dhabi after a foot injury had ruled him out of the final months of the 2021 season.
The Spaniard had planned to play in an ATP tournament in Melbourne before competing at the Australian Open, which starts on 17 January.
Nadal said he had taken a P.C.R. test after returning to Spain from Abu Dhabi and was now confined to his home in Manacor on the Spanish island of Majorca. He said he had informed all those with whom he had been in close contact about his test result, including his wife, his sister, his father, his physical therapist and two of his coaches, Carlos Moyá and Marc López, according to El País, a Spanish newspaper.
The list of close contacts also presumably included Nadal’s two opponents in the Abu Dhabi exhibition: Andy Murray and Denis Shapovalov, both of whom defeated Nadal.
Juan Carlos, the former king of Spain, attended Nadal’s match with Murray on Friday and met on Saturday with Nadal and Moyá, according to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.
Nadal is the latest tennis star to contract the coronavirus. Top-ranked Novak Djokovic tested positive for it in 2020. Second-ranked Daniil Medvedev did so earlier this year, as did Carlos Alcaraz, Nadal’s talented 18-year-old Spanish compatriot, who was forced to miss the Davis Cup finals in Madrid this month.
Leading women who have tested positive include second-ranked Aryna Sabalenka; a former U.S. Open champion, Bianca Andreescu; and Coco Gauff, the rising American 17-year-old who was unvaccinated at the time of her positive test and had to withdraw from the Summer Olympics.
Unlike Djokovic, who has not revealed his vaccination status, Nadal has been an advocate for vaccinations and said he would comply with the coming Australian Open’s decision to require players to be vaccinated.
“If the people who really know about it say that we need to be vaccinated, who am I to create a different opinion?” he said in Abu Dhabi last week.
Nadal said on Monday that he had taken coronavirus tests “every two days” during his visit to Abu Dhabi and to Kuwait, where he has a tennis academy. “All the tests were negative,” Nadal said. “The last was on Friday, and we got the results on Saturday.”
Nadal, ranked No. 6 after his abbreviated 2021 season, had to withdraw from Wimbledon, the Summer Olympics and the U.S. Open this year because of Müller-Weiss disease, a congenital foot condition that first troubled him in his early 20s but which he has long been able to manage with custom insoles and therapy.