After staying away from the court for almost a year due to a wrist injury, Rafael Nadal experienced another setback at his comeback event in Brisbane. A 22-time Major winner scored two wins before wasting three match points versus Jordan Thompson, requiring a medical timeout and withdrawing from the Australian Open.
Rafa felt the pain in the same area of his last year's injury, although it was a micro tear muscle, which is a more positive outcome than the psoas that bothered him a year ago. Nadal is yet to make the following stops in his schedule, and Alex Corretja believes we should see the Spaniard in action as soon as possible.
Corretja feels Rafa will compete again when he feels ready, instead of staying in Mallorca and practicing. He needs challenging matches to raise his level after the most extended break of his career, and we may see him at the upcoming South American clay swing in February.
Alex Corretja spoke about Rafael Nadal's injury and a possible comeback.
Rafa played only four matches in 2023, injuring his left hip in the second round of the Australian Open and skipping the rest of the season. The veteran underwent surgery in June, starting with the practice sessions a couple of months later.
Making improvements and feeling good on the court and the gym, Rafa scheduled his long-awaited comeback for the first week of 2024. Nadal played his first match in 349 days in the opening round in Brisbane against Dominic Thiem.
The Spaniard played well, taming his strokes nicely and moving well. Rafa broke Dominic late in the opener and dominated set number two, sailing into the second round. Nadal played another well-balanced match against Jason Kubler, sealing the deal in straight sets and moving into his 225th ATP quarter-final.
Rafa faced Jordan Thompson and experienced a massive blow, squandering three match points and feeling the pain in the final set after a titanic battle.
Thompson prevailed 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 after three hours and 25 minutes, defending three match points in the second set and breaking Nadal's valiant resistance in the decider.
Rafa claimed one point more than Jordan and had a massive chance to seal the deal, missing a routine forehand at one of his match points. The Spaniard struggled behind the second serve, and his shots were less precise than in the opening two matches.
Nadal played against only three break points, losing serve two times and seizing six out of eight break points. Thompson survived all the challenges and grabbed a decider with a single break on his tally. Rafa required a medical timeout after the fifth game of the final set, feeling the pain and deciding to skip the Australian Open.
"Rafa wants to compete again as soon he feels ready. He will not wait for the clay swing if his body endures the efforts. Playing on clay is physically demanding and can also trouble the body; it's not a guarantee you will remain injury-free. If he is ready, Rafa could embrace the South American clay swing," Alex Corretja said.