'Best news': Tennis fans erupt over Rafa Nadal announcement

Rafael Nadal (pictured) smiling during an Australian Open interview.
Rafael Nadal (pictured) has signalled his intention to play at next year's Australian Open. (Getty Images)

Rafa Nadal has stunned his fans and announced he intends to play at the 2022 Australian Open after a long lay-off with injury.

The 20-time grand slam champion skipped the Tokyo Olympics and Wimbledon in a bid to get back to full fitness ahead of the US Open.

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However, after a shock loss to Lloyd Harris at the Washington Open, Nadal withdrew from the US Open and announced he would be taking the remainder of 2021 off due to a foot injury.

After remaining quiet on his progress, Nadal excited fans after confirming he would play in the World Tennis Championship next month.

This signals his intention to play at the Australian Open next year.

"My plan is to play Abu Dhabi in December and then in a tournament before Australia and then the Australian Open," Nadal said.

"That's my goal.

"We're working hard to make it happen.

"The injury in my foot still needs to get a little better, but I'm already training almost an hour and a half a day so that's positive.

"Some days are better than others, but I'm starting to have a lot more positive days than negative ones.

"So, I'm on the right track. I'm training, I'm feeling better. I'm back on the court."

Fans were rightfully excited at the announcement.

While Nadal has signalled his intention to go for a 21st grand slam, World No.1 Novak Djokovic hasn't committed to the Australian Open yet.

Novak Djokovic waiting for Australian Open decision

Debate has raged for weeks on whether unvaccinated tennis stars will be able to take part in the Australian Open next year as the country opens up its borders.

After a leaked email sent to WTA players, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed unvaccinated players would be free to contest the grand slam if they completed two weeks in hard quarantine.

However, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews slammed the door shut, insisting - just like unvaccinated fans - that un-jabbed players would not be allowed into Melbourne Park.

This has prompted Novak Djokovic to address his fans and confirm he will wait for more details about restrictions before making a decision on travelling to Australia.

Novak Djokovic (pictured) celebrates as he lifts the Australian Open trophy.
Novak Djokovic (pictured) celebrates winning the Australian Open. (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei via Getty Images)

However, Djokovic said it wasn't just him weighing-up his participation.

"Well, I'm going to decide on whether I go to Australia or not after I see the official statement from Tennis Australia," Djokovic said, ahead of his Paris Masters campaign

"Right now, we don't have any official announcement or statement. So until that's out, I won't be talking about this anymore, because I don't want to be part of the stories about the assumptions and what-ifs.

"When official condition requirements to travel to Australia and play in Australia are out, then obviously I'll see what I personally do with that, and also the bigger group of the players, you know, because the situation is obviously different in Australia than most parts of the world."

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