Rafael Nadal's Serve Woes Force Monte Carlo Withdrawal, uncle Toni explains

Rafael Nadal was forced to extend his break and skip Monte Carlo

by Jovica Ilic
Rafael Nadal's Serve Woes Force Monte Carlo Withdrawal, uncle Toni explains
© Alexander Hassenstein / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal will miss his favorite Masters 1000 event in Monte Carlo, extending his break! Rafa has been practicing at home in Mallorca following the Indian Wells withdrawal, working on his beloved clay but still not feeling ready to compete.

Rafa's uncle and former coach Toni revealed his nephew's issues, admitting he still struggles with the pain while serving, feeling the same problems as in the USA. Rafa only has two solutions in his situation: to compete when 100% ready or skip events until he reaches that level, thinking mainly about Roland Garros as his primary goal.

Nadal has played only three matches this year, squandering three match points in the Brisbane quarter-final and missing the Australian Open, Doha, Indian Wells and Monte Carlo.

Rafael Nadal, MOnte Carlo 2021© Alexander Hassenstein / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The veteran wished to compete in the Principality but had to change plans, with Barcelona and Madrid as his possible return tournaments.

Nadal encountered a slight discomfort in his back while preparing for Indian Wells in March. He took an MRI and went home, training on clay for a couple of weeks but staying away from the official matches at least for a few more weeks.

Rafa debuted in Monte Carlo in 2003 at 16, ousting the reigning Roland Garros champion en route to the third round. The Spaniard has been a player to beat in the Principality between 2005 and 2018, lifting 11 trophies and suffering only three defeats.

Nadal lost his Monte Carlo vibe in 2019, playing at one of his favorite events only two times without success. Rafa will enter the ATP event in Barcelona if his back feels better. However, his main target remains Roland Garros, and the veteran will do everything to play competitive tennis in Paris.

A 22-time Major winner has played only seven matches since the beginning of 2023, struggling with injuries and experiencing the worst period of his career. Nadal did not chase Major titles in 2021, and it all changed a year later.

Despite not feeling at his best, Rafa conquered the Australian Open and Roland Garros, making a perfect start to the season and standing alone on 22 Major crowns. However, his luck changed at Wimbledon despite reaching the semi-final, experiencing an abdominal injury and withdrawing.

Rafael Nadal, Monte Carlo 2021© Alexander Hassenstein / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal will not play in Monte Carlo next week.

As it turned out, Wimbledon remains Nadal's most recent competitive tournament, struggling in the second part of the year and missing a chance to become world no.

1 at 36. Instead of a better run in 2023, things became even worse for the veteran. The Spaniard entered the season with no form, suffering two United Cup losses and making the Australian Open title defense impossible. Rafa beat Jack Draper in the first round and faced Mackenzie McDonald in the second.

Nadal did not look well in the opener, and he experienced a severe hip injury in the closing stages of the second set. Refusing to surrender, Rafa played until the end, experiencing a late break in the third set and suffering his worst result at Majors since 2016.

Rafael Nadal, The Netflix Slam 2024© Chris Unger / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Nadal revealed a flexor injury, skipping the upcoming events and undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery in June, missing the rest of the season and embracing the most extended break from tennis.

Rafa spent a delightful summer with his family and friends, recharging batteries and returning to the practice court. Eager to make another push and extend his career for one more year, Nadal made a long-awaited return in the first week of 2024 in Brisbane, competing for the first time in almost a year and giving his fans something to cheer about.

Rafa met Dominic Thiem in the first round and looked good on the court, breaking the rival's resistance in the closing stages of the opener and dominating set number two. Nadal ousted Jason Kubler in the second round and set the quarter-final duel with Jordan Thompson.

Rafa experienced a massive blow, wasting three match points in the second set and falling 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 after three hours and 25 minutes! More importantly, his body could not endure the effort, with the pain around his troubled hip bothering a 22-time Major winner again.

Nadal took a medical timeout in the final set and fought until the end, finishing on the losing side and traveling to Melbourne. The Spaniard underwent an MRI that showed a micro tear in his muscle, withdrawing from the Australian Open and embracing another break.

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

Nadal trained ahead of Doha but felt slight discomfort, skipping the event and hoping for a better run in Indian Wells. Rafa practiced in the desert and played The Netflix Slam against Carlos Alcaraz in Las Vegas, losing 3-6, 6-4, 14-12 after two hours.

A three-time champion eventually withdrew from Indian Wells after feeling the pain in his back, struggling to serve and not risking anything ahead of his beloved clay swing. Nadal could not recover in time for Monte Carlo, withdrawing from another tournament and wishing for better luck in the upcoming weeks.

"Rafa had to skip Monte Carlo, needing more time to recover. His training sessions have been fine, but he struggles while serving. With Roland Garros around the corner, either you compete at 100% or withdraw," Toni Nadal said.

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