Watch: Rafael Nadal hits practice court



by JOVICA ILIC

Watch: Rafael Nadal hits practice court
© Twitter - screenshot

A 22-time Major winner Rafael Nadal is back on the practice court! Rafa trains at home in Manacor, making slow steps after a severe injury and hoping to return to action in 2024. Nadal has played 13 matches after last year's Wimbledon, dropping out from the top-200 for the first time since February 2003!

Nadal's most recent encounter came in January, entering the Australian Open despite feeling miles below his best. Rafa experienced a severe hip injury in the second round against Mackenzie McDonald, undergoing surgery a few months later and hoping for another comeback ahead of 2024.

Nadal made a great start to the previous season, conquering the Australian Open and Roland Garros despite setbacks and standing as world no. 1 contender in the following months. However, he experienced another injury blow at Wimbledon, hurting his abdominal muscle and withdrawing ahead of the semi-final duel against Nick Kyrgios.

It remains Nadal's last great run, playing only a few tournaments and collecting occasional wins in the next 15 months. From the ATP Race leader, Rafa lost his form due to physical issues. The Spaniard entered the US Open, having a nice chance to conquer the ATP throne with a decent result.

Rafael Nadal is back on the practice court!

Instead, he failed to Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round, still feeling the abdominal pain. Rafa has played only 13 matches since last August, never finding the rhythm and witnessing more blows that will likely end his career earlier than expected.

The Spaniard wrapped up the previous season with a victory at the ATP Finals, beating Casper Ruud and embracing the South American swing with the Norwegian. Instead of a fresh start in 2023, Nadal lost both matches at the United Cup despite taking the opening set, falling to Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur.

The defending Australian Open champion gave his everything to play competitive tennis in Melbourne, beating Jack Draper in the first round and facing Mackenzie McDonald. Rafa experienced a severe left hip injury in the second set, refusing to retire but hitting the exit door after losing serve late in the third set.

The Spaniard revealed a Grade 2 iliopsoas and underwent surgery a couple of months later. Rafa will most likely miss the rest of the season, hoping for one more push in 2024 at his favorite tournaments, including the Olympic Games.

Rafael Nadal