Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal confirm goals for 2022 season after Mubadala exhibition

Rafael Nadal announces end to 2021 season through injury

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Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray have both disclosed their goals for the upcoming season as they continue their respective comebacks. The Spaniard made his return at this weekend’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship after ending his 2021 season early with a foot injury. Murray’s ongoing return from his surgery gained momentum at the end of this year, and he proved his form by beating Nadal and Dan Evans at the Abu Dhabi exhibition.

Nadal made his long-awaited comeback at the Mubadala tournament, playing Murray in his first match on Friday.

After suffering a shock loss in the French Open semi-final in June, the world No 6 played just two matches at the Washington ATP 500 before he ended his season early to rest and recover his foot, also undergoing a “medical procedure” in his time away from the tour.

It meant that, during his semi-final match against Murray, the Brit was the younger and more in-form player going into a match – something that has become a rarity for him since his hip troubles.

The 34-year-old was hit with hip issues while world No 1 back in 2017, and spent the next few years mostly on the sidelines as he struggled with injury and underwent two surgeries.

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His comeback finally started to gain momentum at the end of the 2021 season, as he beat two top-ten players and made two quarter-finals in the last couple months of the season.

Murray was able to beat world No 25 Evans and Nadal, before falling to world No 5 Andrey Rublev in Saturday’s final.

Meanwhile, Nadal lost two close matches to Murray and world No 14 Denis Shapovalov, but felt “positive” about his form after the losses.

Although he came away from his comeback tournament without winning a match, the 20-time Major champion admitted he still felt he could win the biggest titles in the sport, saying he wouldn’t return to tennis if he didn’t have that belief.

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“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,” he said, after losing to the Canadian from a set up.

“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 is still there.”

However, Nadal did admit he hadn’t given 100% commitment to the Australian Open in January, and would now take time to discuss where to play next with his team following the conclusion of the exhibition tournament.

Murray also has high expectations of himself for the new season, admitting he wanted to make deep runs in the big tournaments.

“I have been pretty healthy the last three months, I’ve got to play a lot of matches. Just need to find a way of turning some of these matches against the top players around. Hopefully I can have some big runs in the biggest tournaments again, that’s my goal,” he said, during the trophy ceremony after his final against Rublev.

Murray, who has three Grand Slam titles and two Olympic gold medals to his name, also admitted he would like to have a “fairytale” run next season, and set himself concrete goals of winning 700 matches and 50 titles, currently sitting at 691 and 46.

“The biggest goal is to have a deep run in a Grand Slam and be in the quarter-finals, semi-finals of a Slam, have that sort of fairytale scenario where it’s like, ‘Could he do it again? Is it possible?’” he told Eurosport.

“It happened with – and I’m not saying I’m Roger Federer or Muhammad Ali, I’m certainly not. But I still have the ability to compete with the best players in the world. If my body is able to stay healthy, it’s certainly a possibility. And whilst that possibility is still there, I’m going to keep on keep trying to achieve what it is that I want.”

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