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After Indian Wells 2022, things looked pretty bleak for Rafael Nadal. He sustained an injury in his semi-final clash against Alcaraz. However, he still competed in the final before losing to Taylor Fritz. Upon returning to Spain, doctors confirmed the worst – he had sustained a rib fracture that would sideline him for up to six weeks. Bear in mind that he played the final in Indian Wells on March 20th. But now, the six-week period is almost over, and he has announced his return to the tour for the Madrid Open.
Some might say that this is still a little early, but Nadal wants to play in front of his home fans. Ever the crowd-pleaser, Nadal will make his return next week in Madrid, although the draw is yet to be announced. This is obviously great news for the King of Clay and his fans, especially with Roland Garros approaching quickly.
Below, I’ll be looking closer at his decision to return to Madrid and how this may impact his French Open preparations.
The King Is Back for Madrid
I have to admit, when the six-week recovery period was announced, I was concerned about Nadal’s French Open preparations. The build-up for the second Grand Slam of the year is obviously extremely important for him, as it is for all players. But given that he is planning his return for Madrid, I feel this bodes well in the following ways:
Top-Level Competition Before the French
Being able to play tournaments at the highest level before the French is incredibly important. And since he is competing in Madrid, this means he will be playing at least one Masters-level event prior to Roland Garros. If his injury really is fully healed, he will certainly be competing in the Rome Masters too. This would mean two Masters events in the build-up to Paris. And of course, besides these Masters events, there are two 250-level events the week before the French Open.
Usually, Nadal doesn’t compete in these, but I guess it depends on how he performs in the two Masters events and how he feels physically. Either way, he will be back on court and competing at the highest level.
He Seems to Be a Beast After Injuries
This is something of a phenomenon with Rafael Nadal. And perhaps the best example of this is his 2022 season. As we all know, Nadal missed most of the 2022 season with his foot injury. In fact, he didn’t take to the court after the French Open loss to Djokovic. So when he came back to compete again at the start of 2022, in all honesty, nobody really expected much. But Nadal has posted one of the best starts to the season of all time. He went 20-0 before losing to Fritz in Indian Wells, and he even had an injury in that game!
It seems that time away from the tour makes him hungrier than ever. And assuming his fitness levels hold up, I’m incredibly excited to see his return, as we all are.