Rafael Nadal could return to the courts directly on clay, specifically in the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. The Spaniard underwent instrumental tests immediately after his loss to Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open; examinations revealed a grade 2 injury to his iliopsoas muscle.
The Indian Wells and Miami Masters 1000 seem increasingly distant for the Spaniard, who has raised the white flag in recent days ahead of the tournaments in Doha and Dubai. This morning a new lead has been produced. Nadal announced that he will sit out his exhibition match with Carlos Alcaraz on March 5 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The event had been presented in a big way by the organizers, but the 22-time Grand Slam champion will have to withdraw. The choice of Nadal could be an important clue for the next commitments. In fact, the Indian Wells Masters 1000 will start on March 22, thus just two weeks after the match the Spaniard should have played against Alcaraz in Las Vegas.
Without proper preparation, it is unlikely that Nadal will risk hitting the court in the two American Masters 1000s. It was in California where Nadal was injured last year before the final that he lost to Taylor Fritz. Juan Carlos Ferrero, former number one and current coach of Alcaraz, spoke about Nadal’s future in a recent interview with the Clay website.
“Nadal still has a lot of desire to compete and I think it will be his physique that will set the limits. He won two Grand Slam tournaments in 2022, so I think it’s normal for him to have strong motivation. Stopping playing at his usual level could discourage him.
As long as he can express this level, he will continue to have this kind of motivation. He will retire when he feels that he is no longer competitive and stops having fun, “said the Spanish coach.
Mary Joe Fernandez on Rafael Nadal
Mary Joe Fernandez picked Rafael Nadal as the perpetual favorite at the Roland Garros championship.
“If Rafa’s healthy, I’m still going to say Rafa,” the former World No.4 said. “Someone who wins the tournament 14 times, to me is the favorite every time they play, even if they haven’t played all year,” the American said. “He becomes a different player on the clay, he becomes a different player at the French Open,” Fernandez said.
Nadal played in the Indian Wells final last year, points that he could lose in 2023, which would jeopardize his stay in the Top 10, where he has been for 900 consecutive weeks.
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