Martin Jaite, the former world no. 10, bestowed upon Rafael Nadal the moniker of a player with 'nine tennis lives.' The Buenos Aires tournament director applauded Rafa's remarkable resilience and tenacity in overcoming injuries.
Jaite expressed his anticipation for Nadal's performance in the upcoming months. The Argentine emphasized that the extent of Nadal's success will ultimately hinge on the condition of his body and its capacity to withstand the rigors of competition following the most extended hiatus of his illustrious career.
After experiencing another setback at the beginning of the season in Brisbane, Rafa works hard at home in Mallorca, preparing for next week's ATP 250 event in Doha. Nadal will compete in Doha for the first time since 2016, seeking his second crown in the desert.
The 2023 season was the most challenging in Rafa's career, playing four matches and wrapping up the year in Melbourne in January! Despite setbacks, Nadal claimed two Major titles in the first half of 2022, extending his legacy and standing alone at 22 Majors.
The Spaniard lost the ground since Wimbledon, experiencing an abdominal injury that would ruin the second part of the season. Rafa started the 2023 season at the United Cup, experiencing two losses from a set up and heading to Melbourne without confidence.
Nadal defeated Jack Draper in the first round and faced Mackenzie McDonald in the second. Nadal experienced a severe left hip injury in the closing stages of the second set, battling until the end but falling in straight sets.
Rafael Nadal will return to action in Doha next week.
Rafa underwent surgery in June and missed the rest of the year, preparing for his comeback. Nadal felt good on the practice court and gym, setting his return for Brisbane at the beginning of 2024.
Rafa's first match after 349 days came against Dominic Thiem, and the veteran played well from 5-5 in the opener to leave his old rival behind. Nadal defeated Jason Kubler in the second round after another rock-solid performance on serve and return, preserving energy and arranging the quarter-final duel with another Aussie, Jordan Thompson.
It was a grueling battle that lasted almost three and a half hours, with Nadal failing to endure the physical effort!
Rafa could have avoided injury, squandering three match points in the second set and experiencing a 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 loss.
Rafa felt the pain around his hip after giving everything on the court, requiring a medical timeout in the middle of the decider but refusing to retire. Rafa fought until the end, losing the set 6-3 and propelling Jordan over the top.
Nadal underwent an MRI check, which revealed a micro tear in his muscle, withdrawing from the season's first Major event in Melbourne. Rafa returned home and hit the practice court after a proper rest, hoping to compete injury-free in Doha against rivals like Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, and Karen Khachanov.
"Rafa has nine lives. He has been injured many times, always coming back. Everything will depend on what the body tells him. He wants to play competitive tennis again, but it will be impossible if his body can not endure the effort," Martin Jaite said.