Rafael Nadal comes back in Doha: why it's the right choice

According to the latest rumors, the Spanish champion should return to playing on hard-courts, before focusing on his beloved clay-season

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Rafael Nadal comes back in Doha: why it's the right choice
© Chris Hyde / Stringer Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal will come back to the court in a month. This is the indiscretion launched by commentator and former tennis player Laura Robson on Eurosport. The hypothesis was naturally not confirmed, given the various unknowns surrounding the Spanish champion at the moment. After his good performances at the Brisbane International, Rafa emerged battered from the tough battle against Jordan Thompson and was ultimately forced to withdraw from the Australian Open due to a muscle micro-tear.

According to what was stated by the 29-year-old Briton, who met with the best Spanish coaches, the initial part of the season on hard courts may not be over for the winner of 22 Grand Slam titles.

In fact, Rafa would have among the choices available the possibility of returning to the ATP 250 in Doha, scheduled from 19 to 24 February. At that point he could continue and register for the Dubai tournament the following week or prepare for the American tour for the ATP Masters 1000 in Indian Wells and Miami.

In the event that Nadal fails to recover or decides to think about the main objectives set for 2024, his come back will be on clay. The 2024 edition of the Australian Open, if we want, is already historic even before it begins given that for the first time Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will not be at the starting line. This hasn't happened since 1999. Either one or both of them had participated in every edition of the Melbourne Slam.

Nadal
Nadal© Chris Hyde / Stringer Getty Images Sport
 

"Hello everyone. During my last match in Brisbane I had a small problem with the muscle which as you know caused some concern. Once I arrived in Melbourne, I had the opportunity to have an MRI and I have a micro tear in the muscle; not in the same area as the previous injury, and that's good news. At this moment I am not ready to compete at the highest level in the best of five sets.

So I decided to return to Spain to meet my doctor, get treatment and rest. I've worked hard to get back and my goal, as I've always said, is to reach my best level in 3 months. I really wanted to play in Australia and I had the chance to do so for a few matches which made me happy. Thank you all for the support!" With these words Rafa updated fans on his current physical condition.

The choice, if it turns out to be truthful, would be the right one, in my opinion. I motivate you with my words. Nadal has said that 2024 will be his last year before retiring (although he has not totally ruled out playing in 2025). But, if this were to be his last professional year, Rafa must give himself as many chances as possible to play in the most important tournaments.

Playing in Doha means preparing for Indian Wells and Miami. Two tournaments that Nadal would like to participate in. The last two major events before the clay season. Considering how fast the countdown of his time on a tennis court is running, Rafa will want to try to hit the court as many times as possible, give his best, for himself and for the millions of fans who await him.

I think missing the Australian Open was a big blow for him. That's why, yes, he will focus on the clay season, but he will at the same time try to play as many big events as possible.

Nadal
Nadal© Chris Hyde / Stringer Getty Images Sport
 

Craig Tiley hopes to see Nadal in Melbourne in 2025

In a speech on the AO Show podcast, Tiley raised hopes of Rafa Nadal's last participation in the Melbourne tournament. "He will be ready, hopefully, in February and I wish him all the best. I just told him we can't wait to see him in January 2025. He didn't say no. His reaction was: I'll play if I feel good and don't have any injuries, then I'll come back," said Tiley.

Mats Wilander expressed on the same issue: "We want him to be able to say goodbye, of course. I'm not sure what this goodbye should be like. Obviously, we had perhaps one of the greatest farewells ever with Roger Federer at the Laver Cup in the O2 Arena.

It wasn't unexpected that he would eventually say goodbye, but it wasn't a very serious day of tennis. Maybe we won't have the same goodbye. All I want to see from Rafa Nadal is for him to say goodbye when he wants to, not when he has to, and I think the injury world is not very kind to him at the moment."

Rafael Nadal
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