Returning Rafael Nadal says was ‘very sick’ with COVID

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FILE – Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts during the Citi Open at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit:

FILE – Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts during the Citi Open at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Rafael Nadal said that he had been “very sick” with COVID as he returned with a patchy win over qualifier Ricardas Berankis at the Melbourne Summer Set tournament on Thursday.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion launched his Australian Open preparations with a 6-2, 7-5 win, his first singles match on the ATP Tour since August after injury and then the virus.

The 35-year-old, who tested positive for COVID last month, was in action just as his rival Novak Djokovic — who is also chasing a record-breaking 21st Slam title — was facing deportation from Australia.

“I felt so tired and I had fever,” Nadal said of having COVID.

“I had to be on the bed for a couple of days without having the chance to move much because I was very sick with…

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