Rafael Nadal has won all three tournaments so far in 2022, including his 21st Major title at the Australian Open. The Spaniard claimed the Acapulco crown and headed to Indian Wells, where he should be among the title favorites in the next two weeks.
In 2018, Nadal had to skip the season's first Masters 1000 event, struggling with injuries throughout the year but still winning five ATP titles. Rafa had hip, right knee and abdomen issues, playing 49 encounters and wrapping up the year following the US Open semi-final retirement.
The Spaniard skipped the season's opener in Brisbane, still feeling the pain in his right knee and not risking anything ahead of the Australian Open. Rafa played well in the opening rounds at Melbourne Park against the lower-ranked opponents to find himself in the fourth round.
Diego Schwartzman kept world no. 1 on the court for almost four hours in the last 16. Nadal prevailed 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, 6-3, but his physical condition only got worse. Giving his everything to overcome a hip injury, Rafa eventually retired against Marin Cilic while trailing 3-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-2, 2-0 after three hours and 47 minutes.
Marin was a more aggressive player, keeping the points on his racquet and firing over 80 winners. The Croat trailed twice but remained composed to claim eight out of ten games after set number three and control the scoreboard.
Rafael Nadal did not plazy in Indian Wells and Miami in 2018.
Nadal never felt comfortable on the court despite a great effort, failing to impose his strokes and seizing two out of ten break chances. Cilic collected 19 break chances and converted five to build the advantage before his rival retired.
Rafa failed to finish a Major match only for the second time in his career, and the same outcome waited for him in September at the US Open. A couple of weeks after Melbourne, Nadal felt the pain in his hip again in Acapulco, withdrawing from the ATP 500 event and deciding to skip Indian Wells and Miami too.
"Hello, everyone. Unfortunately, I'm forced to write this and inform you that my worst warnings were confirmed. The injury I suffered in Acapulco before the tournament is in the same area as the one I had in Melbourne. Thus, I will not be able to play Indian Wells and Miami.
My goal is to get back during the clay season. It was not easy for me to withdraw from Acapulco, where I have many fans supporting me. It's equally challenging to miss the American swing in March; Indian Wells and Miami have always been important to me.
I will miss you all, but I will do my best to return in 2019. Thank you for the support," Rafael Nadal said.