Rafael Nadal Indian Wells Masters 2022

Rafael Nadal: The preparation for Indian Wells has been bad

Rafael Nadal is set to play an exhibition match with Carlos Alcaraz in Las Vegas later today, and the 22-time major winner has provided an update on his fitness ahead of his return.

Nadal spent nearly a year away from the ATP Tour last year, after picking up a serious psoas tear at the 2023 Australian Open.

The Spaniard made his long-awaited return at the Brisbane International in January, reaching the quarter-finals before suffering a ‘micro tear’.

However, Nadal reassured fans that it was nowhere near as serious as the previous injury and entered the tournament in Doha last month, but later withdrew after admitting that he was ‘not ready’.

And the 37-year-old is now gearing up to make return at Indian Wells, where he is a three-time champion, but appears unclear as to how this latest comeback will go, “I don’t know how I am. I haven’t played a set since Brisbane. I’ve had better and worse moments.”

Nadal continued, “The most important thing for me is that I’m here (in America). If I’m here it’s already good news. Two weeks ago, beyond the results, the goal was to play Las Vegas and Indian Wells and I’m closer to achieving it.

“I don’t know what level I’ll be at in Indian Wells, but it is the least important thing today. For me, it is important to spend a few days in Indian Wells and train with professionals.”

The now ranked world No.654 then revealed his goal for the Masters 1000 tournament in the desert, “The preparation for Indian Wells has been bad and for Brisbane had been good. I hope to play a set between this Sunday’s match and the three days I have left before the debut.

“For me, the priority is to try to get out of Indian Wells unscathed. Whatever has to be left, leave it in the clay season, which may or may not be the last (of my career), I have not decided 100 per cent. At the moment things are going that way.”

Nadal has openly implied that 2024 is likely to be the last season of his career on the ATP Tour, but the Mallorcan does not want to make any final statements at this point.

“I’m not saying goodbye because then I’d say I’m not playing anymore,” explained Nadal. “This is an important point and I don’t want to say it because I’m not 100% clear about it.”

He concluded, “In the last two years, I haven’t been able to play. Life is showing you the path. How did I imagine my farewell? At first, I didn’t imagine it because when you start to imagine something, it means that the closer you are to it. It wasn’t something I had in mind. I would like to say goodbye well, being competitive and enjoying myself on the court. Whether that can be or not, time will tell.”

Nadal will play Spanish compatriot Carlos Alcaraz in a Netflix special exhibition this evening, before his opening round match at Indian Wells on Thursday 7th March.

Inside the baseline…

It feels as though Rafael Nadal is trying to keep his expectations low ahead of Indian Wells, which is understandable considering all the setbacks he has had in the past year. The exhibition with Carlos Alcaraz tonight, although just a bit of fun, should be helpful for Nadal as it provides him some practice against one of the world’s best without the pressure of a competitive match situation.

READ NEXT – Indian Wells 2024 Preview: When is it, who is playing and what is the prize money?

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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.