Rumours swirl over fresh Rafael Nadal injury setback ahead of Monte-Carlo comeback

Kevin Palmer
Rafael Nadal looks on
Rafael Nadal grimaces in Brisbane

Rafael Nadal has not played in a competitive tournament since early January and now there are suggestions that he is struggling to be fit for next week’s proposed return at the Monte-Carlo Masters.

Nadal made an encouraging return to the ATP Tour in Brisbane in the opening week of 2024, but he picked up an injury in that event that forced him to withdraw from the Australian Open.

The Spaniard sustained a muscle tear near his hip in his quarter-final defeat to Jordan Thompson in Brisbane, but scans revealed it was not in the same area as the hip problem that proved to be such a big problem after the 2023 Australian Open.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion then pulled out of a planned comeback in Qatar in February, but he did manage to make it on court for the ‘Netflix Slam’ exhibition event last month.

His exertions in that match then forced him to withdraw from the Indian Wells Masters with a back issue, as he issued this statement on his social media platforms.

“It is with great sadness that I have to withdraw from this amazing tournament at Indian Wells,” he said.

“Everyone knows how much I love this place and how much I love to play here. That’s also one of the reasons why I came very early to the desert to practice and try to get ready.

“I have been working hard and practicing and you all know I took a test this weekend but I don’t find myself ready to play at the highest level at such an important event.

“It is not an easy decision, it’s a tough one as a matter of fact but I can’t lie to myself and lie to the thousands of fans.

“I will miss you all and I am sure the tournament will be a great success.”

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The clear focus for Nadal all season has been to ensure he is ready to compete on his beloved clay courts and especially at the French Open, where he is a 14-time champion.

Yet rumours are swirling in social media platforms that Nadal may be struggling to play in Monte-Carlo next week, with rumours suggesting his back problem is still an ongoing issue.

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He has posted images on his social media accounts in recent days showing him hitting groundstrokes with plenty of ferocity, but there is no footage of him hitting serves.

In his Netflix match against Carlos Alcaraz in Las Vegas, Nadal’s serve was clearly affected by his back problem and the tennis world will now wait to see if the Spaniard will play in an event he has won on a remarkable 11 occasions.

Nadal is also due to play in Barcelona a few weeks after the Monte-Carlo tournament and then in the ATP 1000 events in Madrid and Rome prior to the French Open.

Yet the ongoing challenges he is facing physically after he missed most of 2023 due to injury may mean such a hectic schedule over the next few weeks is unrealistic.

Nadal’s social media team have been very active in charting his progress during his comeback attempts in recent months, but the lack of footage of the 37-year-old preparing for his latest comeback has added to the belief that he may not be practising to his full capacity.

If Nadal is forced to miss out on a return to Monte-Carlo and maybe Barcelona as well, fresh question marks will be raised about whether this great champion will be able to finish his career on his own terms in 2024 after all.