Rafael Nadal ‘giving himself every chance to take part in tournament he is so fond of’

Shahida Jacobs
Rafael Nadal Monte-Carlo Masters trophy

Rafael Nadal remains on course to make his return from injury in April as he is determined to be fit for one of his favourite tournaments.

The 22-time Grand Slam winner has not played competitive tennis since picking up a left hip flexor injury during his second-round defeat at the Australian Open in mid-January.

He had initially hoped to make his comeback at this week’s Indian Wells Open or next week’s Miami Open, but he withdrew from both tournaments saying he only wants to return when he is 100% fit.

The tennis great has traditionally kicked off his clay-court season at the Monte Carlo Masters and he looks set to return this year as he has been confirmed for the 2023 edition in the Principality.

Tournament Director David Massey says the former world No 1 is determined to play at the ATP Masters 1000 event, which runs from April 10-16.

“Rafa was the first [player] to be registered,” he said. “He really wants to play at the Monte Carlo Masters and is giving himself every chance to take part in the tournament he’s so fond of.”

The Spaniard, an 11-time winner in Monte Carlo with his last title coming in 2018, also missed last year’s tournament as he was recovering from a rib injury he sustained at the Indian Wells Open while he was beaten in the quarter-final in 2021.

The 36-year-old, though, has returned to training after his latest setback but he admitted in recent weeks that the hip injury was a lot more serious than initially thought.

“I haven’t talked much since what happened in Australia, but in Australia I had a big, big breakdown,” he said.

“It was a very big tear in the muscle, I tore a little bit of the tendon. It is a very complicated place in the psoas, in all sports, but in tennis we get strength from there, so it is a slower recovery than we would like.

“We have no choice but to be a little patient; it is true that the calendar is passing and that I am no longer 20 years old, and after a year like the one I’ve been having, one gets tired, but I do what I can.”

Besides Nadal, the 2023 Monte Carlo Masters entry list also features all the players in the top 10 of the ATP Rankings with world No 1 Novak Djokovic, reigning US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz and two-time defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas the headline acts.

READ MORE: Rafael Nadal’s 2023 tennis schedule: Where is he competing next after Sunshine Double withdrawal?