Doha or the clay-season: Rafael Nadal chooses his future

The Spanish tennis player withdrew from the Australian Open after the physical problem suffered at the Brisbane International. Now we need to understand when he will return to the court, to understand how he intends to set up his season

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Doha or the clay-season: Rafael Nadal chooses his future
© Chris Hyde / Stringer Getty Images Sport

The come back on the court that everyone was waiting for at the beginning of 2024 was Rafael Nadal. And his come back was bittersweet. On the one hand the good physical performance, even in adverse weather conditions, with high humidity and heat. the usual charisma, the usual mental strength and the usual ferocity. On the other hand, the injury suffered in the quarter-finals of the Brisbane International.

An injury (yet another of his career) not serious, but problematic enough to make him miss the Australian Open 2024. The latest rumors say that Nadal may return to the court for the Doha tournament. The Spaniard is expected to return to training soon after the Melbourne Major, but there is no official news on his next tournament.

If he were to return to Doha, that means he could play the Sunshine Doubles at Indian Wells and Miami. Differently, the other hypothesis is that Nadal could return to playing directly on clay. An even more sensible hypothesis, which would exclude the transition and adaptation from hard-courts to clay-courts.

Nadal now has too much experience and talent to have problems transitioning between the two surfaces, but considering his recent physical problems, it would be one less thing to think about. Nick Kyrgios knows very well the sensations an athlete feels when he is forced to stop again after following a long period of rehabilitation. A knee injury forced the Australian to miss practically all of last season, because his return to Stuttgart went terribly badly and forced him to stop again.

Nadal
Nadal© Chris Hyde / Stringer Getty Images Sport
 

"I hope to return this year, but it won't happen before the grass season starts," said Kyrgios. The same happened to Nadal. In the control room as commentator at the Australian Open, Kyrgios expressed his point of view on Rafa's future in the words reported by Punto de Break.

"Coming back and then stopping again? This is the fear that all athletes have. You come back and give it your all and I stop again. A great champion like Rafa works for a year, comes back and suffers another injury. Honestly, I hope that you keep playing because we all know how important he is to the sport and how much fun he has on the court. Realistically, however, I believe that this will be his last year on the Tour and that he will aim for Roland Garros," said the Australian.

According to what Laura Robson reported to Eurosport, Nadal could return to the ATP tournament in Doha, scheduled from 19 to 24 February, to prepare for the ATP Masters 1000 in Indian Wells and Miami.

Rafael Nadal's bittersweet come back

"Hi all, during my last match in Brisbane I had a small problem on a muscle that as you know made me worried. Once I got to Melbourne I have had the chance to make an MRI and I have micro tear on a muscle, not in the same part where I had the injury and that’s good news. Right now I am not ready to compete at the maximum level of exigence in 5 sets matches. Therefore I m flying back to Spain to see my doctor, get some treatment and rest.

I have worked very hard during the year for this comeback and as I always mentioned my goal is to be at my best level in 3 months. Within the sad news for me for not being able to play in front of the amazing Melbourne crowds, this is not very bad news and we all remain positive with the evolution for the season. I really wanted to play here in Australia and I have had the chance to play a few matches that made me very happy and positive. Thanks all for the support and see you soon! Rafa."

Nadal
Nadal© Chris Hyde / Stringer Getty Images Sport
 

With these words, Nadal announced on his social media account his withdrawl from Melbourne. The Spanish champion will have a main goal for this season (most likely, like the same Rafa said, his last one), which will be to win the Roland Garros. The Spaniard also aims to play the Olympic tennis tournament, which will be held on the Bois de Boulogne clay-courts. Fans hope to see Rafa competitive and play againsy his nemesis Novak Djokovic, maybe at the Roland Garros or at the Olympic tennis tournament. And there is also who would liek to see Rafa play against youg players of the Tour, like his countryman Carlitos Alcaraz or the Italian Jannik Sinner. About Rafa's schedule, it is to understand if the Spaniard will play or not the grass-swing. The Olympic torunament is on clay and scheduled after the Championships so, Nadal, in order to train on the same surface, could decide to skip the grass-season in order to resume to play again on clay.

Rafael Nadal Australian Open Brisbane International
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