What are Rafael Nadal's chances at Indian Wells?

The Spanish champion was drawn in the top-half of the BNP Paribas Open

by Lorenzo Ciotti
What are Rafael Nadal's chances at Indian Wells?
© Chris Unger / Stringer Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal amazed the fans present in Las Vegas to watch the exhibition match The Netflix Slam, showing a physical condition worthy of his name. The match against his young countryman Carlitos Alcaraz was only an exhibition, but the two tennis players played three sets, both showing a good physical level, especially in view of Indian Wells.

"I felt much better than expected, but the level of tennis is one thing, the specter of injuries is another. So I hope to emerge from Indian Wells unscathed," Rafa said at the end of the match against Alcaraz.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion lost the match against Carlitos in a super tie-break, but he admitted during the match that he felt positive.

Nadal's next match will be the ATP Masters 1000 in Indian Wells, where he will play with his ranking protected and will try to test his conditions in an official match, in order to play as many matches as possible in view of his real goal of the season: the clay season.

"During the first set I played good tennis, even though I hadn't been on the court for a long time, I felt much better than expected. Of course I need to spend more time on the Tour, at least to train with professionals even if I don't have to play many matches. The most important thing is to find the rhythm again but my body will decide because I feel very good in my head: I still have a lot of passion," Nadal explained in the post-match interview.

"Now I'm thinking about Indian Wells and then I would really like to play in Monte Carlo but I will have to check my conditions step by step, what the sensations will be and which tournaments I would most like to play. I will try to do what is best to achieve my goals, leaving myself open some options," explained the Spaniard 22 times Slam champion.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal© Chris Unger / Stringer

Nadal's chance at Indian Wells

Rafa was drawn in the top-half of the BNP Paribas Open, the first ATP Masters 1000 of the season which will be played on the Californian hard-courts of Indian Wells. The Spanish tennis player, as mentioned, showed a good physical level.

If he were to be physically fit, he might have a chance of reaping a good result. However, considering his latest physical problems, Rafa could try to save energy: after all, he is in Indian Wells to recover minutes on the courts and play as much as possible.

His mission is the same as always: to perform at the top for his beloved clay season. So we shouldn't be surprised if Rafa doesn't get too good a result at the BNP Paribas Open. But I am convinced that, if Rafa decided to play freely and to the maximum, then yes, in that case getting to the quarter-finals or even the semi-finals would not be a utopia.

In an interview with MARCA on the eve of The Netflix Slam, Rafa analyzed his situation, also focusing on the immediate future.

"To be honest, I don't know how I'm doing. I haven't played a set since Brisbane. The fact that I'm here is already good news. I don't know what level I'll be at but right now it's the least important thing. I'm excited to train with other professionals, to play with Carlos in Las Vegas.

The priority is to try to get out of Indian Wells unscathed. If I have to leave something out, it is during the pre-clay season. It may or may not be my last season, not the I still have 100% decision.

I would like to be in Monte-Carlo, then I have to analyze how I am at every moment, my feelings and where I most want to play. I will try to do my best to achieve my goals, I want to do things what I really want to do to be happy," he explained.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal© Clive Brunskill / Staff Getty Images Sport

His uncle Toni Nadal, Toni Nadal explained in an interview with AS a few days ago why his nephew had decided to participate in the BNP Paribas Open, rather than go and play directly on clay courts.

"Indian Wells? He needs to compete and has no other choice. He hasn't done it for too long. If you don't compete, you can't be ready. Obviously the setback in Brisbane was difficult to accept, because he played well in his first few games. It was a shame, but we have to accept what happened.

We'll see how things go, but I try to be positive and I still prefer to say that he will win Roland Garros. I hope that my nephew can also be a protagonist at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games."

Rafael Nadal Indian Wells