Carlos Alcaraz-Rafael Nadal Las Vegas exho just narrowly avoids brutal fate yet again

There were fears that Alcaraz and Nadal would again have to call off their Las Vegas exhibition.

by Dzevad Mesic
Carlos Alcaraz-Rafael Nadal Las Vegas exho just narrowly avoids brutal fate yet again
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Carlos Alcaraz suffered a very unfortunate ankle injury in Rio de Janeiro and that led to fears that we could again see a Las Vegas exhibition between Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal being called off. 

On Tuesday night in Rio de Janeiro, top-seeded Alcaraz badly rolled his ankle in just the second point of his first-round match against Thiago Monteiro. Instantly, Alcaraz called for help and received a medical timeout. Although it didn't look good, Alcaraz decided to continue the match. But after just two games and tied to one game apiece with Monteiro, Alcaraz retired from the match. 

Carlos Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz© Getty Images Sport - Buda Mendes

With 10 days left before the scheduled Netflix Slam, suffering an injury was the last thing that Alcaraz and the exhibition organizers needed. Last year, Alcaraz and Nadal were scheduled to meet in an exhibition match in Las Vegas just before the Indian Wells Masters. But the match and the entire exhibition ended up being canceled altogether after Nadal withdrew due to a hip injury and Alcaraz later pulled out because of a hamstring issue.

The Netflix Slam between Alcaraz and Nadal - which is scheduled to take place on March 3rd at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Vegas - is projected to be streamed live on Netflix. But after Alcaraz sustained an ankle injury, some feared that the scenario from 2023 would be repeated.

Fortunately, those fears ended following Alcaraz's announcement on Wednesday, in which he announced that he sustained a Grade 2 lateral sprain - an injury that isn't considered serious and that he should compete in the Netflix Slam and the Indian Wells Masters.

"! I just had an MRI on my ankle after yesterday’s injury. After the meeting with my doctor @drlopezmartinez and my physiotherapists @juanjo_moreno_m and @sergiokine the diagnosis is a grade II lateral sprain. I have a sprain that will keep me out for a few days! See you in Las Vegas and Indian Wells!" Alcaraz announced.

What Alcaraz said shortly after suffering an ankle injury?

After being forced to retire from the match, Alcaraz revealed that he initially "felt bad" but then was told by the physio that it "was not a serious injury." Alcaraz made the decision to continue playing but ultimately decided to end the match after the pain continued and his fears became bigger that he could potentially aggravate his injury by resuming the match. 

“Tomorrow I’ll have a test for my ankle and let’s see if it’s something serious or not,” Alcaraz said after the match.

“The physio told me it was not too serious… because I felt, I felt bad. That was the first impression I had. I mean, I was feeling pain once I fell down, so I thought that it was going to be difficult to continue playing if I was still having those feelings.

“The physio told me to continue the game and see what happens. After a few points it didn’t feel better. I was feeling the pain. I couldn’t move well, and I knew that it was going to be impossible to continue. I thought it was going to get worse if I kept playing for such a long match and that’s why I chose to retire.”

Carlos Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz© Getty Images Sport - Buda Mendes

On the other side, world No. 117 Monteiro was left stunned over the way his match against Alcaraz finished. 

“This is so strange, it was the second point of the match. On the court it didn’t look so serious, but then I saw it in the big screen and it was a bad twist. Now I can only cheer for him to recover, he is a star, a dominant one in the new generation," Monteiro said.

What is happening with Nadal after a muscle tear injury?

After not playing any tournaments in 2023 after suffering a hip injury at the Australian Open, Nadal made a comeback in the first week of the 2024 season at the Brisbane International. After starting with two wins, Nadal suffered an unfortunate muscle tear injury during a Brisbane quarterfinal defeat to Jordan Thompson and ended up withdrawing from the Australian Open.

After missing the Australian Open, Nadal returned home for treatment and recently started practicing again. This week, Nadal was scheduled to return to action in Doha but he ultimately decided to skip the event. However, Nadal withdrawing from Doha isn't particularly worrisome since the former world No. 1 is practicing and expected to be able to play again when the time comes for the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal© Getty Images Sport - Chris Hyde

Earlier this year, the Netflix Slam organizers experienced a problem when Nadal got injured. Now, they have a new problem since Alcaraz is dealing with an injury 

When Netflix announced that Nadal and Alcaraz would be clashing against each other in the first-ever tennis match streamed live on Netflix, there was a lot of hype and interest for the match.

“I’m honored and so happy to be sharing the court with Rafa in Las Vegas. He’s an all-time great, of course, and his records and achievements speak for themselves," Alcaraz told Netflix in a statement.

While Nadal is 37, he has never had a chance to play in Las Vegas. 

“I’m very excited for my first visit to Las Vegas. I’m also very excited to be playing with my fellow countryman Carlos Alcaraz. I am sure it will be a fantastic night of tennis," Nadal told Netflix.

If nothing unexpected happens in the next couple of days, Alcaraz and Nadal should meet in Las Vegas on March 3rd.

Carlos Alcaraz Rafael Nadal