Watch: Rafael Nadal increases practice pace



by JOVICA ILIC

Watch: Rafael Nadal increases practice pace

A 22-time Major winner Rafael Nadal works hard on his comeback at home in Mallorca! After a couple of weeks of basic hitting without moving much, Rafa has increased his pace during his training sessions, doing his best to prepare for the Monte Carlo Masters in April.

Nadal has not played since the Australian Open second round, struggling with a hip injury and skipping Doha, Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami. The Spaniard hopes to compete again in Monte Carlo or Barcelona in April, although everything depends on his recovery pace.

Nadal experienced a Grade 2 iliopsoas injury in Melbourne, already skipping four tournaments and dropping out from the top-10 after Indian Wells for the first time in almost 18 years! Rafa was in a great position to finish the previous season at the top after conquering the Australian Open and Roland Garros.

The veteran led the ATP Race despite injuries and setbacks and set his eyes on the third consecutive Major crown at Wimbledon. The Spaniard ousted Taylor Fritz following an incredible five-setter in the quarter-final, prevailing in over four hours despite apparent issues.

Rafa revealed a seven-millimeter abdominal tear and withdrew ahead of the semi-final duel with Nick Kyrgios. Despite giving his best to recover, it remains Nadal's last notable tournament eight months later.

Rafael Nadal is working hard to return to action in April.

The Spaniard scored three wins at the US Open before losing to Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round, struggling with pain and staying away from the court for two months.

Never enjoying indoor conditions, Nadal could not find the rhythm in November after a long break, losing four consecutive matches for the first time since 2009! The year-end no. 1 battle became the mission impossible, and Rafa embraced an off-season, hoping for a fresh start in 2023, similar to the one he had a year ago.

Instead, he has played only four matches this year, losing three and sealing his fate in the top-10! Not feeling at his best, Rafa gave everything while seeking the Australian Open title defense. He overpowered the young Briton Jack Draper in the first round and faced Mackenzie McDonald in the second.

The American proved too strong and scored a 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 triumph for a place in the third round. Rafa injured his left hip in the second set's closing stages, refusing to retire and giving his 120% in the third. However, he suffered a late break to propel the rival over the top and drop almost 2000 ATP points.

After further checks, Nadal revealed a Grade 2 iliopsoas injury that forced him to miss four hard-court events in February and March. Rafa started with preparations on clay and will try to get ready for the clay swing, setting his eyes on the 15th Roland Garros crown, his ultimate goal in 2023.

Rafael Nadal Monte Carlo