Clay Prowess: Mouratoglou's Key Advice for Rafael Nadal's Injury Comeback

Rafael Nadal experienced an injury in his comeback event in Brisbane

by Jovica Ilic
Clay Prowess: Mouratoglou's Key Advice for Rafael Nadal's Injury Comeback
© Chris Hyde / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal played his comeback tournament in Brisbane, competing for the first time in almost a year. Rafa won two matches before blowing away three match points against Jordan Thompson in the quarter-final, falling after three and a half hours and experiencing a small tear in his muscle.

The veteran underwent an MRI and withdrew from the Australian Open, heading home and working on a recovery. Patrick Mouratoglou was surprised to see Rafa competing on hard court after the most extended break of his career, expecting him on South American clay in February.

Mouratoglou suggested Rafa avoid hard courts and compete only on clay until his beloved Roland Garros, his most significant goal of the season. The coach believes Nadal would make a mistake if he played Indian Wells and Miami, risking more injuries in his already troubled body.

Patrick recommended Rafa stay on clay in the upcoming months and build his form and confidence ahead of Roland Garros. Rafa injured his left hip at last year's Australian Open, undergoing surgery in June and missing the rest of the season.

Nadal hit the practice court and gym in the second part of the year, feeling confident and deciding to give it a go in the first week of 2024 in Brisbane. A 22-time Major winner demonstrated his good-old desire, playing well in the opening two encounters and making his fans thrilled.

Patrick Mouratoglou believes Rafael Nadal should play only on clay by June.

Rafa's first match in 349 days against Dominic Thiem and performed well, breaking the rival's resistance at 5-5 in the opener and bringing the victory home.

The veteran kept the same pace in the second round against Jason Kubler, sealing the deal in straight sets and moving into the quarter-final. The veteran ended his campaign with a tough 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 loss to Jordan Thompson, squandering two match points and feeling the pain around his troubled hip in the final set.

Nadal asked for a medical timeout in the middle of the decider, staying on the court until the end but revealing a minor muscle tear.

Rafael Nadal, Brisbane 2024© Chris Hyde / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Rafa decided to skip the Australian Open, unable to endure the best-of-five sets efforts.

Nadal could have emerged at the top in straight sets, wasting a match point at 5-4 on the return and two more in the tie break, including a routine forehand. The good thing is that the injury is not too serious, and we should expect Nadal on the court in a couple of weeks.

According to some rumors, he will sign up to compete at the ATP 250 event in Doha, staying on hard courts and probably contemplating his USA trip to Indian Wells and Miami. Also, there's an option to embrace the South American clay swing, which Rafa did a couple of times after experiencing injuries, always feeling good on his beloved surface.

"Rafa is injured again, but that small muscle tear should heal in a few weeks. Roland Garros remaining his main goal, and he should skip Indian Wells and Miami and play only on clay," Patrick Mouratoglou said.

Mouratoglou Rafael Nadal