• Rafa Nadal has won three titles this year
  • Nadal won a record 21st Grand Slam title by winning the Australian Open
  • He defeated Medvedev in the Australian Open final

World No. 4 Rafael Nadal has returned to training after a long injury layoff.

Nadal stepped onto a tennis court after "four weeks" ahead of the Roland Garros 2022, the Spaniard revealed on social media.

"Today's first gentle workout after four weeks without stepping on a tennis court. What excitement to step onto clay again!" Nadal wrote on Twitter, alongside two photos showing him training indoors on clay.

Nadal suffered a stress fracture in the ribs on his road to the final at Indian Wells in California. Young American player Taylor Fritz defeated Nadal in the final of the ATP 1000 Masters event, ending his personal record of a 20-match streak. After the defeat, Nadal announced the injury would keep him out of action for at least four to six weeks.

With the clay season underway, Nadal missed out on the Monte Carlo Masters last week and is not competing in the ongoing Barcelona Open. However, the 35-year-old tennis star is expected to feature in the Madrid Masters, which is scheduled to take place from May 1 to 8, Forbes reported.

Nadal is the most successful player in Madrid Masters, having won the ATP 1000 event a record five times, two more than Djokovic and Federer. Last year, Nadal lost in the quarter-finals at Madrid Open to eventual champion Alexander Zverev.

During Nadal's absence, teenage compatriot Carlos Alcaraz bagged his maiden ATP title by winning at the Miami Open, while Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas claimed a second straight Monte Carlo title.

Nadal's 20-match winning streak included a triumph in the Australian Open. That made him the first-ever man to win 21 Grand Slam singles titles, one more than arch-rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Nadal beat Daniil Medvedev in an epic final in Melbourne after Djokovic was deported from Australia over his COVID-19 vaccination status.

Out of the four tournaments Nadal has played in 2022 so far, the former World No. 1 has won three. Apart from the calendar year's first major, Nadal has also won the Melbourne Summer Set 1 and the Mexican Open.

Rafael Nadal extended his unbeaten start to 2022 with a win over Dan Evans
Rafael Nadal ended his 20-match unbeaten streak by losing the Indian Wells final GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA via AFP / CLIVE BRUNSKILL

Nadal's current focus is to return to full fitness in time for the French Open, which goes underway on May 22. He has won the tournament an incredible 13 times.