The incredible start to the season of Rafael Nadal, winner of three tournaments at the beginning of the year (including the Australian Open 2022) and stopped only by Taylor Fritz in the final of the Indian Wells Master 1000 after a 3-game winning streak, seemed to herald yet another season on clay dominated by the Majorcan champion.
However, the stress fracture in the side remedied in the final acts of the American tournament has upset the plans of the 21-time slam champion, who will be forced to stay away from the courts for 4 to 6 weeks. If his absence in Monte Carlo is now certain, his presence at the ATP 500 in Barcelona is still in the balance.
In an interview with Marca, the director of the Catalan tournament, former world number three David Ferrer, said that the hope of seeing the Spanish champion and great friend on the court is still alive. Ferrer reassured the crowd of the Catalan event by promising a parterre of respectable players: "There will certainly be three 'top 10' (Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud and Hubert Hurkacz) and 11 of the top 20.
A final between Tsitsipas and Carlos Alcaraz would be attractive," said the tournament director to Marca. The former Spanish tennis player then sang the praises of his young compatriot Carlos Alcaraz, who was also among the protagonists at the Miami tournament.
Will Rafael Nadal play in Barcelona?
Alcaraz has in fact obtained against Stefanos Tsitsipas the 5th career victory against a Top 10 at the tender age of 18 years, 10 months and 24 days, becoming the second youngest to do so after Rafa Nadal, who managed to cross this milestone in 12 days less (18 years, 10 months, 12 days).
"Nadal is an irreplaceable player, but we have the novelty of Alcaraz, who creates a lot of expectations after how he broke into the circuit this year. Having Rafa is something unique and the only thing I hope is that he will recover as soon as possible," said Ferrer.
The Spaniard then commented on the mental strength of the Manacor champion, recalling Rafa's ability to recover from every injury suffered in his career and come back stronger than before. "It is not easy when they tell you that you have an injury and even more before the start of the season on clay.
He had played very well and with confidence. But if there is one thing that Rafa has, it is that he has always come out of this type of situation with more force. Injuries are part of sport."