Rafael Nadal following Novak Djokovic match at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal ‘can play a great role at Roland Garros’ claims former coach

Rafael Nadal is returning to the ATP Tour next week and the Spaniard’s uncle and former coach, Toni Nadal, has had his say on the former No.1’s chances of being competitive in what could be the final year of his career.

Nadal spent nearly a year out of action after suffering a serious tear to his psoas muscle at the 2023 Australian Open, causing the 37-year-old to fall to his lowest ranking since 2002 (No.672).

He returned at the ATP 250 event in Brisbane last month, winning two matches before suffering a setback in his quarter-final defeat to Jordan Thompson.

In this defeat Nadal later revealed that he had obtained a ‘micro tear’, but reassured fans that it was nowhere near as serious as the previous injury.

Nadal had entered the tournament last week in Doha, Qatar, but withdrew and is now scheduled to return at Indian Wells next week.

And his coach of 27 years believes that competition is just what his nephew needs, “It’s that he needs to compete. He has no choice. He hasn’t done it for too long. And of course, if you don’t compete, you can’t be prepared.”

While Toni Nadal did not comment on how long his nephew has left in the sport, the 63-year-old did suggest that he feels the 14-time Roland Garros champion has a chance of adding another to his record tally.

“Very positive, because after so long without competing, I think he played at a good level [in Brisbane],” said Toni Nadal. “I see him training at the academy and I think that’s how it is.

“I prefer to say that he is going to win [the French Open]. Then we’ll see. I know it’s difficult, but I always try to be positive and I hope that my nephew can play a great role both in the [Olympic] Games and at Roland Garros.”

There are still a few months before Roland Garros begins, with Rafael Nadal’s attention currently on playing a Netflix special exhibition match against Carlos Alcaraz in Las Vegas on Sunday, before competing at Indian Wells next week.

Inside the baseline…

Everything is a bit up in the air with Rafael Nadal at the moment, with the Spaniard’s match level currently unknown until he takes to the court again. Whether it was intended in that way or not, the upcoming exhibition match against Carlos Alcaraz should be great preparation for Nadal ahead of the Masters 1000 event in the desert. If Nadal can stay fit and find form heading into Roland Garros, then he is always going to be a major threat at the tournament, but there are way too many unknowns to say at the moment.

READ NEXT: Rafael Nadal ‘will continue for another year’ if fit claims former world No.3

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.