Rafael Nadal freezes tennis in Barcelona: is this the last time?

The Spaniard finally returns to his beloved clay

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Rafael Nadal freezes tennis in Barcelona: is this the last time?
© David Becker / Stringer Getty Images Sport

"The Barcelona tournament has given me a lot of joy in my career. This is my club and I have spent part of my life here. In the last two years I have only attended the circuit for a few days, and being here, seeing people and training with the players, it's fantastic."

Rafael Nadal will be among the protagonists of the upcoming Conde de Godó, ATP 500 which will be played in Barcelona. A special appointment for him, which will mark the beginning of his favorite season.

But he question everyone is asking, however, is: will this be the last time in Nadal's career at the ATP 500 in Barcelona? 

Tennis will freeze for his comeback. All the fans are waiting for him, hoping that it won't be his last Barcelona Open. But the reality - even considering all the problems he suffered between 2023 and 2024 - is that, as said by Rafa himself, this will almost certainly be his last year of his legendary career and, consequently, this will be one of the last chances for fans to see Nadal play in Barcelona.

After being forced to skip the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, the 22-time Slam champion wants to get back to putting on a show, but above all to win.

A success that has been missing for too long for a champion of this level. In fact, his last title dates back to the victory in Paris in 2022. Thanks to his protected ranking, Nadal will start from the main draw in Barcelona, where he was drawn against the Italian Flavio Cobolli, who will have the great responsibility of testing the form of the Spanish champion, at his return to the Tour, after his last appearance in Brisbane at the beginning of the season.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

Rafa, who among other things was named after the central court of the tournament, did not hide his joy at returning to the pitch, in one of his favorite places.

Rafael Nadal made the history of the sport on this surface. There are 63 titles won on clay. No one has ever achieved a feat even remotely comparable to that of the former number one.

The golden times in which the tennis player from Manacor won a series of trophy after trophy on this surface are long gone but history will also have its weight in Barcelona. 14 titles at Roland Garros, 11 in Monte-Carlo, 10 in Rome but also 12 in Barcelona, a tournament that will take place in a few days.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal © Getty Images Sport - Alexander Hassenstein
 

Nadal's latest statements

"It's becoming difficult for me. It's been a difficult year and a half, I'm trying every day. I'm not ruling out anything, not even being in Barcelona or Madrid, but at the moment I won't be able to get there due to physical problems. On a personal level everything is fine; on a professional level it's difficult," Nadal explained a few days ago in a recent interview with Movistar on the occasion of the Copa del Rey final.

Of great concern, according to what was reported by the local media, would be the service movement which at this moment would not allow Nadal to hit the ball without feeling pain.

The 22-time Slam champion tried to participate in the Masters 1000 in Indian Wells (he had gone directly to the United States) and Monte Carlo, but in both cases he announced his withdrawal a few days before the draw for the main draw.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

Nadal will try not to further prolong the period of forced stoppage and to give himself more emotions on the surface that he loves most.

"Hello from Barcelona. First training with the joy of being here these days before the start of the tournament. I'm here to see how it goes and with the desire to try to play. I don't confirm my participation, I hope to be able to play," he wrote on his Instagram account.

His rival Djokovic also had beautiful words for Rafa Nadal, in Monte Carlo: "What happens with Rafa Nadal? This is the question of questions!
Only he can answer. It's important for our sport to have Rafa on the pitch, and he's even more so this year, where he said he could be the last. It's a shame to see him out since the start of the year.

I don't know where he is with his body. But who if not he has the right to do what is good for him? He is a legend of our sport. As a tennis fan, I hope he can return to his favorite clay court at Roland Garros."

Rafael Nadal
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