Rafael Nadal reached his limit but he can rise one last time on clay

The Spanish tennis legend left the Indian Wells ATP Masters 1000 'cause he's still not ready physically

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Rafael Nadal reached his limit but he can rise one last time on clay
© Chris Hyde / Stringer Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal withdrew from the ATP Masters 1000 at Indian Wells, in a tournament where he was supposed to make his debut in a few hours against Croatian Milos Raonic, because he was not yet physically ready.

The Spanish champion had left good sensations from a physical point of view, after The Netflix Slam played against Carlitos Alcaraz, but evidently they were not enough for a demanding tournament like the BNP Paribas Open.

Many hoped to see him back on the court, it now seemed like a matter of hours but instead everything will be postponed again.

Nadal returned this year at the Brisbane International after a long break but suffered a new injury in his second match against Australian Jordan Thompson.
The Spaniard's last year and a half increasingly takes on the contours of a drama. There is nothing to be done and the situation is increasingly complicated.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal© Chris Unger / Stringer Getty Images Sport
 

As he wrote a few lines above, we saw Rafa on the court in the exhibition against Alcaraz in Las Vegas and many fans had the hope of seeing him also in the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in California. In the end there was nothing to be done: Rafa announced his withdrawal from the tournament.

"With great sadness I have to announce my withdrawal from this fantastic tournament. Everyone knows how much I love playing in the desert and how much I love being here at Indian Wells and also for this reason I arrived much earlier to be able to train.

I've worked hard and done some tests but I'm not ready to take part in such an important event. It's not an easy decision, in fact it's very difficult for me but I can't lie to myself and above all to all my fans. I will miss you all and I'm sure the tournament will be a great success," he wrote on his X account

Now what will happen?

The situation remains extremely complex. It's easy to imagine that Nadal could now decide to return directly to the court for the clay season. A decision that could have been foreseen a few weeks ago, after the injury at the Brisbane International, but which was then swept away by the Spaniard's decision to play at the BNP Paribas Open.

Rafa's plan will now undergo a new change, but the truth is that the Spaniard will have to navigate by sight. Also considering the Indian Wells skip and looking to the future (a few weeks), the next tournament Rafa could play in would be the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters. But the start of the tournament is only a month away. Is it possible that Nadal will be able to get rid of all his physical stress for the tournament at the Monte Carlo Country Club? It's a really big unknown.

Perhaps Nadal's physical level is not so approximate, but he may have decided to improve it further this month, trying to avoid physical problems in California, in order to arrive at his beloved clay season in excellent physical conditions. It will probably just be a strategy aimed at maintaining a worthy physical condition for the clay swing.

Or - second option, which is more dramatic - Nadal's body has now reached its limit and he will only be able to tolerate a few tournaments between now and his retirement from professional tennis.

But we have seen it many times throughout his glorious career. When he seemed to have his back against the wall, when it seemed impossible to escape physical dramas, the Spanish champion found new strength thanks to his beloved clay-courts.

There were editions in which Nadal arrived at the Roland Garros with what seemed to be insurmountable physical problems. At the final test, he had swept away all his opponents, as if the physical problems he had before him were just a distant memory. Especially in Paris, Rafa transforms.

What we see today could be a wonderful veil for the eyes and Nadal will be able to rise again on clay one last time, before his final farewell to tennis.

In the meantime, his fans have filled social media with comments, evidently regretful, disappointed and amazed by yet another tournament missed by the Spanish champion.

Below are the most relevant comments:

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