Roger Federer's former coach Jose Higueras thinks Rafael Nadal will probably need at least between two and four tournaments before he starts feeling comfortable again and winning matches. Nadal, 37, sustained an injury to his psoas muscle at this year's Australian Open and he hasn't played since.
After failing to recover in time for the French Open and seeing that his recovery wasn't progressing as expected, Nadal surgically addressed his injury in June. Nadal is targeting to return at the start of the 2024 season but he highlighted that nothing is confirmed or guaranteed at this point.
"I think it's pretty tough for Rafa [Nadal] just to start at the Australian Open as the first tournament, after not playing for a year. So hopefully he can get a couple of lower-level tournaments that gives him a chance, given his body, to start getting those good feelings about being out there and playing at that level.
If his body is good, that's the main thing, and if there are some reservations, then I will definitely be more careful," Courtside: The US Open Podcast
Higueras on Nadal returning and regaining his rhythm and form
The majority of players struggle and need time to regain their rhythm and form after just being out for a few weeks.
In Nadal's case, the 37-year-old Spaniard will be returning after being sidelined for an entire year. Nadal, a 22-time Grand Slam champion, is one of the greatest players in tennis history and he definitely knows how to win even when the situation is far from ideal.
However, winning right from the jump after being out for a year is going to be very difficult even for someone like Nadal. "Sometimes there are some players that can take a few weeks off or a month off and jump into a tournament and pretty much play the same as when they left.
Some other players can not take that longer period off and then feel confident or comfortable playing again. So coming back from injury as long as Rafa has been out, I would think ideally for him to get two, three, four tournaments, that gives him a little bit of a chance to actually start winning matches and getting those good feelings coming back to him again," Higueras said.