Watch: Rafael Nadal is back in action! Will he compete on grass?

Rafael Nadal returned to the practice court following the Roland Garros defeat

by Jovica Ilic
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Watch: Rafael Nadal is back in action! Will he compete on grass?
© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The 24-time Major winner Rafael Nadal is back on court following his heartbreaking Roland Garros R1 loss. Rafa returned home to Mallorca and stayed on his beloved clay, training at his tennis complex and most likely preparing for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris. Nadal will almost certainly miss the entire grass swing despite a home ATP 250 event on the fastest surface, staying on clay and setting his eyes on his final Olympic Games. Rafa has played only seven tournaments since the beginning of 2023, struggling with a hip injury and dropping out of the top-600. The veteran missed almost an entire 2023 before returning to action in Brisbane in the first week of 2024.

Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2024
Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport
 

Nadal beat two rivals before blowing three match points versus against Jordan Thompson, feeling the pain around his hip again and skipping the Australian Open. Rafa felt the pain in his abdominal muscle while training in February, missing Doha, Indian Wells and Monte Carlo. The Spaniard entered his first event in 100 days in Barcelona, losing to Alex de Minaur. The home favorite player better at the Madrid Masters, scoring three wins for the first time since the 2022 US Open and reaching the last 16. Nadal fell to Jiri Lehecka in straight sets despite a solid effort, missing a chance to notch his 100th Masters 1000 final. It did not come in Rome either following a tough loss to Hubert Hurkacz, not looking good ahead of his beloved Roland Garros.

Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2024
Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport
 

Rafael Nadal is back on the practice court at home in Mallorca.

By the draw's will, the 14-time champion faced the Rome Masters champion and world no. 4 Alexander Zverev in the first round. Nadal gave everything on Court Philippe-Chatrier in a 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 loss in three hours and five minutes, playing his 116th and maybe the final Roland Garros match. The German served at 77% and made the difference with his first serve. Alexander grabbed 45% of the return points and turned them into six breaks from a massive 18 opportunities. Rafa created 11 break points and seized only two, experiencing his earliest Roland Garros exit since debuting in 2005!

Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2024
Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport
 

Zverev landed 44 winners and 30 unforced errors, building a massive advantage in the shortest and most advanced exchanges. Alexander kicked off the encounter with a break and scored another at 5-3 to wrap up the opener in style. Rafa raised his level in the second set and forged a 5-3 advantage, serving for the set in game ten. Zverev broke back at love and saved two break points in the next one before prevailing in the tie break for a massive advantage. The third set offered 12 break points in the opening five games, and they traded breaks in the early stages. Alexander stepped in at 3-3, delivering two breaks and scoring a notable win against the Roland Garros legend. 
 

Rafael Nadal Roland Garros
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