Rafael Nadal's Drama: Will Discomfort Force Him to Skip Doha?

Rafael Nadal is in doubt for Doha after the latest setback

by Jovica Ilic
Rafael Nadal's Drama: Will Discomfort Force Him to Skip Doha?
© Getty Images Sport - Chris Hyde

Despite positive feedback from the practice court, a 22-time Major winner Rafael Nadal is still deciding whether to compete at next week's ATP 250 event in Doha. Rafa felt discomfort a couple of weeks ago, practicing but leaving the door open for the last-minute Doha withdrawal.

After numerous setbacks in the last couple of years, the veteran is eager to preserve his body and only play when he feels ready. If Rafa misses Doha, his next tournament should be Indian Wells in March. Nadal has played one tournament in 2024, competing in Brisbane and experiencing a micro-tear around his troubled left hip.

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

Rafa revealed another minor setback during his practice sessions at home in Mallorca, and he will probably take more time off the court to recover completely before heading to the desert for the opening Masters 1000 event of the season.

Nadal was a regular participant in Doha between 2005 and 2016, losing the 2010 final before lifting the trophy four years later over Gael Monfils. Nadal reached another final during his last visit to the desert in 2016, experiencing a heavy loss to world no.

1 Novak Djokovic in 73 minutes.

Rafael Nadal might skip Doha due to a minor setback.

Rafa claimed two Majors titles early in 2022 before losing ground in the second part of the season. He did not play well at the beginning of 2023, suffering two United Cup losses and injuring his hip in the second round of the Australian Open.

As it turned out, it led to his most extended break from tennis, missing the rest of the season and hoping for a better run in 2024. The Spaniard underwent surgery in June and started his comeback after the summer, making slow steps on the practice court and gym.

Nadal announced his comeback for the start of 2024, playing his first matches after 349 days in Brisbane. Rafa made a convincing return, ousting Dominic Thiem and Jason Kubler en route to the quarter-final.

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

The Spaniard embraced a marathon against Jordan Thompson, suffering a heavy 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 loss in three hours and 25 minutes after blowing three match points in the second set!

Rafa's hip could not endure the effort, leaving the veteran with a micro-tear and many questions ahead of the Australian Open. Nadal underwent an MRI in Melbourne and decided to skip the season's first Major, not risking more serious issues in best-of-five duels.

Rafa returned home and started practicing a few weeks later. He looked good, but the news about the latest discomfort surfaced on Wednesday, leaving the veteran in doubt for Doha. "I would love to play in Doha, but it will be the last-minute decision. If I do not recover in time, I will travel to the USA and compete in Indian Wells," Rafael Nadal said.

Rafael Nadal