Rafael Nadal - Australian Open 2023

Rafael Nadal ‘not long’ from ‘competing again’ according to former coach

Rafael Nadal’s return is the talk of the town at the moment, and his uncle Toni has given a positive update for fans after the Spaniard withdrew from the Madrid Open.

Nadal has been away from the ATP tour since the Australian Open, where he lost to Mackenzie McDonald in the second round on the 18th January.

During that match Nadal picked up a grade two tear to his iliopsoas muscle, to which he was expected to be out for only six to eight weeks.

However, that period has extended to 14 weeks with Nadal having to withdraw from his home Masters 1000 event, but his uncle Toni has indicated that the 22-time Grand Slam champion could return in the near future.

“Rafael is recovering, I think he is not long before he can compete again, but in this tournament [the Madrid Open] he could not be here,” said Toni. This is one of the tournaments that he is the most excited to play but we will have to wait for another year.”

Toni continued, “Obviously he is not going to arrive at Roland-Garros with good preparation, we do not have to fool ourselves. Since January 10 [18th] he hasn’t played matches and he hasn’t competed for a long time.”

Not only has Nadal’s coach of 27 years revealed that his nephew could be returning soon, he has also backed his chances at Roland Garros with a good draw.

“Before Australia he didn’t play many matches either, but Nadal picks up speed right away and in a Grand Slam it depends a lot on the draw,” said Toni.

Toni added, “If you are lucky enough to have a reasonable draw in the first rounds, then anything can happen. I have said many times. Nadal in the second week [of a Grand Slam] is a favourite.”

Rafael Nadal record at Roland Garros

Nadal has only ever lost 45 career matches on clay, with a win record of 91.3% on the surface.

His record at Roland Garros is even more impressive, as he has a 97.4% win record, with only three defeats in his 115 matches.

Here are Nadal’s three rare defeats at the clay major:

2009 – Nadal lost in the fourth round to Robin Soderling (23), 2-6 7-6(2) 4-6 6(2)-7

2015 – Nadal lost in the quarter-final to Novak Djokovic (1), 5-7 3-6 1-6

2021 – Nadal lost in the semi-final to Novak Djokovic (1), 6-3 3-6 6(4)-7 2-6

Rafael Nadal will be hoping to not add to this list of defeats if he takes to the Paris major that begins on the 28th May.

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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.