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It has been tough eight months for the Spaniard, going from fighting for the number 1 position to barely getting minutes on the court. He has only played four matches in 2023, tasting defeat on three occasions.
Nadal was supposed to make his comeback in Indian Wells but another injury has set him back. This saw him move out of the top 10 for the first time in 18 years. He is currently ranked 13th in the world and was believed to return in Monte Carlo.
News of his return sent fans in a flurry as the tournament organizers confirmed his participation.
“We’re eager to welcome the legend @RafaelNadal,” Monte-Carlo Masters’s twitter account stated.
🎾 We’re eager to welcome the legend @RafaelNadal
🇪🇸 He is definitely able to win his 12th trophy in #montecarlo despite of his last injury #RolexMonteCarloMasters #Monaco pic.twitter.com/DVxtFYIU7W
— Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (@ROLEXMCMASTERS) March 23, 2023
The 22 Grand Slam winner was returning in an environment that best suit his playing style. Minutes on the court would surely set him up for success at the French Open.
Early Monte Carlo return unlikely for Nadal
Despite the optimism from fans and Monte Carlo Masters, David Massey, Nadal has refused to confirm his participation in the event. Talking about his return from injury and come back, the 36-year-old has upped his training regimen.
According to former Davis Cup teammate and current Barcelona Open chair, David Ferrer, Nadal has increased his workload in training sessions. The current world no. 13 admitted this himself but refused to answer questions about his return.
He shared that he himself is in the dark about his return. He added that his team are looking at his development on a daily basis and only time will tell whether he will be complete his preparations in time.
“I don’t know who gets this information, but obviously if it were true I would confirm it, but unfortunately I can’t confirm it,” Nadal remarked about his return.
“I’m following my course and I don’t know when I’ll play again, that’s the truth. I’m in a phase of increasing work. If I knew when I was going to return, I would say so, but I don’t know.”
“I cannot confirm that I will play in Monte Carlo, things are seen day by day. I prefer to say things when I really know them,” Nadal clarified.
No 12 for Nadal
A domineering beast on the clay court circuit, Nadal cherishes playing in this environment. It was revealed earlier by Monte Carlo Masters tournament director David Massey that the Spaniard was one of the first to put his name on the list of participants.
“Rafa was the first registered player. He really wants to play in the Monte Carlo Masters and is giving himself every opportunity to participate in the tournament that he likes so much,” Massey recently said in a statement.
Nadal has 11 Monte Carlo Masters to his name and will be gunning to make it 12. The increase in his training workload points at that. He seems to be keeping expectations low given the last 15 months.
He added the Australian Open and French Open titles to his ranks and has struggled ever since. The 2022 year finished with him losing four successive matches for the first time since 2009. The 2023 campaign has not seen an improvement in his fortunes.
Keeping expectations low while working in the background in the best possible strategy.