Top coach suggests Rafael Nadal will ‘probably stop’ comeback bid if reality dawns
Patrick Mouratoglou believes Rafael Nadal will “probably stop” his comeback if he is “far from the feeling that he can win a Grand Slam.”
The renowned coach also argued that there is “no reason” Nadal will not be the favourite to win the 2024 French Open if he is healthy and free of pain.
Nadal has not competed since suffering a hip injury in his second round loss to Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open in January. The 37-year-old underwent surgery on the issue in June, having initially expected to be out for only six to eight weeks. He was forced to postpone his proposed comeback during the clay-court season.
The Spaniard claimed the most recent of his 22 Grand Slam titles at the French Open last year, defeating Casper Ruud in straight sets in the final.
The former world No 1 has won a remarkable record 14 Roland Garros crowns and has lost just three times in 115 matches at the clay-court major. This was the first year he missed the French Open since 2004, having made his debut at the event in 2005.
In a video posted on his Instagram account, Mouratoglou discussed Nadal’s proposed comeback and asserted that he will still be dangerous if his body permits.
“When it comes to Rafa, I understand he doesn’t wanna feel that pressure and he wants people to think that he’s coming next year to say goodbye. But that’s not the type of guy [he is]. He’s gonna play fully,” argued the Frenchman.
“He will have enough time to practise. Historically, he’s a player that needs to play a lot. The question mark is, how much injury free will he be in 2024? If he doesn’t have pain and he’s free to play next year, there is no reason to think that he will not be dangerous / the favourite for Roland Garros.
“Will he be ready to win the Australian Open? Probably he’s gonna be short. He wants to see if he’s able to win a Grand Slam still or if he’s far. If he’s far from the feeling that he can win a Grand Slam, he will probably stop.
“I don’t think he’s gonna play just to be No 20 in the world. But if he feels he can still [win], I think he will continue. Again, unless he has an injury that we ignore.”
Mouratoglou, who coaches at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in France, has worked with Serena Williams, Simona Halep, Coco Gauff, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Holger Rune.
In a recent interview with Movistar+, Nadal insisted he does not expect to be able to compete for Grand Slam titles when he returns to action.
“My dream is to play again, to be competitive again, not to win at Roland-Garros or in Australia. At the time I am in my life is very far away (from challenging for major titles). I am not saying it is impossible because these things change very quickly,” said the Mallorcan.
“But since Indian Wells last year, it has been a hard year and a half, with no peace of mind at all. The results mask the reality of day-to-day life. Without surgery, I was not going to recover by stopping for a long time. I made the decision and apparently, it turned out well.
“I’m not sure what I’m going to do in 2024, because because of the way I am, I can’t be clear. My way of facing the year changes depending on the objectives. I don’t even have the need to respond to myself. My hope is in two months to know how and where I am.
“Yes, I can play but I am not in a position to win at Roland Garros because maybe I would like a farewell tour. These are answers that I cannot give now.”
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