Rafa Nadal has been referred to as “the king of clay” by clay court giant, Thomas Muster despite the 31-year old Spaniard currently in 8th position in the world of tennis.

Nadal has battled with a wrist injury from last year which has caused him to suspend his 2016 season, hence the drop in the rankings.

Nadal missed the French open and Wimbledon, and he was sent packing in Australia. He described it as “an injury-filled year” in a Facebook post, and has attributed his woes to a not fully recovered injury. It was a short season for him as he was forced to stop and take time to rest in preparation for the 2017 season.

In a recent interview he said, “The goal now is to completely recover and be able to be pain free on the area, and start preparing for the 2017 season.”

Nadal is set to begin the 2017 season with a return at the Mubadala world tennis championship at Abu Dhabi on the 29th December, play the Brisbane international in the first week of January, and then he hopes to travel to Melbourne for the final grand slam of the year, which begins on the 16th January.

Some fans have expressed their fears that his wrist might still pose a problem if not fully recovered, holding him up the 5 setter in week 1 or 2. Some others wish him good luck in the coming season, saying it would be lovely to watch him play again.

However, the 14-time grand slam champion is very optimistic of the new season. He was quoted by saying: “I am in the middle of the preseason, and at the moment everything is going on well. I am willing to work, and so far I am managing to do it.” The Spaniard said that being happy and playing well to win are his two goals.