The wait is practically over, the moment of return has arrived: Rafael Nadal is ready to return to the track after almost two months out due to a rib injury. After missing the first part of the clay court season (Monte Carlo and Barcelona missing, where Nadal has won a total of 23 tournaments), the Mallorcan has chosen Madrid for his debut on the red court in 2022.
The Spanish Masters 1000 will start on April 30 and end on May 8. Nadal has triumphed five times in his career in the Spanish capital (the last in 2017) and his search for a sixth title has brought him an unpleasant surprise: the scoreboard has a possible derby of all Spaniards in the quarterfinals against Carlos Alcaraz, probably the fittest player at the moment.
Nadal is still the favorite to win, but it will be necessary to see how he is after his two-month break. The 21-time Grand Slam champion has an insane 20-1 record in 2022, a year in which he has only lost the Indian Wells final against Taylor Fritz and has already won three trophies (including his 21st career slam at the Australian Open).
In a brief interview with Marca, the director of the Madrid tournament, Feliciano López, was delighted with the presence of the 'King of Clay' at his home event. The 40-year-old tennis player from Toledo, former number 12 in the ranking, expressed his hope of seeing Rafa Nadal in top form at the Madrid tournament.
"We are very happy that Rafa is here with us. I hope to see him 100% on Wednesday," Lopez said.
Rafa Nadal has already arrived in Madrid
Former doubles World No. 1 Mark Knowles recently hailed Rafael Nadal's competitive spirit, saying he's never seen a better fighter than the Spaniard in the history of the sport.
"I mean have you ever seen a better competitor in any sport?" Knowles said. "I mean, I've gone on record with a lot of people and I respect every single athlete, I mean I am a sports fanatic, the Jordans, the Woods, the Gretzkys, there is no greater competitor in my eyes than Rafael Nadal.
Knowles went on to express his admiration for the 21-time Slam winner, saying he had never seen a single point in which Nadal failed to give his all. "I've been around the game for a long time," Knowles said. "I've played, watched and commentated Rafael Nadal.
I've never seen him not give a hundred per cent on a point, I never have. If someone has, please send me a clip of it because I haven't. So if you really break that down, think about how crazy that is. He's never taken a play off and it speaks of his mentality, I mean, he is one of the greatest champions in any sport and, nothing but admiration for Rafael Nadal."