Looking forward to new season as Nadal sets sights on 21st major

by IANS |

London Dec 18 (IANS) Spanish tennis stalwart Rafael Nadal has said that he is looking forward to the new season after recovering from a recurring foot injury that forced him to withdraw from the last Grand Slam of the year -- The US Open.

On Friday, Nadal, who has bagged 20 majors so far, was selected by fellow players as the winner of the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the fourth straight year in the 2021 ATP Awards. The 35-year-old has now received the honour five times, first triumphing in 2010.

The award recognised the Spaniard's fair play, professionalism and integrity on and off the court.

"I can't be happier to receive one more time the Sportsmanship Award from my colleagues on the Tour," Nadal was quoted as saying by atptour.com. "It means a lot to me, so thanks a lot to every player that thinks that I am the right one to receive this award.

"Honestly, it means a lot to me because I try to be always correct on court. Thanks for believing in me and I wish all the very best for the 2022 season to all my colleagues on the Tour and I hope to see you soon," added Nadal.

The Spaniard has won an ATP Award in each of the player-voted categories -- Newcomer (2003), Most Improved (2005), Comeback (2013) and Sportsmanship (2010, 2018-2021). He was also named Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year in 2011 and crowned ATP No. 1 five times (2008, 2010, 2013, 2017, 2019).

Nadal has won titles on clay in Barcelona and Rome this year and reached the semifinals at the French Open, before concluding his season in August due to injury. The 35-year-old finished at No. 6 in the ATP Rankings, his 17th straight season in the year-end top-10, breaking the record he previously shared with American legend Jimmy Connors.

Nadal and world No.1 Novak Djokovic headline the entry list for the 2022 Australian Open. The Spaniard, who is tied with Djokovic and Swiss ace Roger Federer for the most number of majors, would be keen to win his 21st title to break the tie.

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