'It's Not Like He's Scared, He's Injured': Wilander's Judgment On Nadal's Withdrawals

'It's Not Like He's Scared, He's Injured': Wilander's Judgment On Nadal's Withdrawals

by Nurein Ahmed

Mats Wilander recently offered a candid assessment of Rafael Nadal's 2024 campaign, which has been marred by multiple withdrawals from high-profile tournaments.

Nadal rejoined the tour at the start of January after an 11-month injury layoff because of a torn hip he suffered at the 2023 Australian Open. He won two matches in Brisbane before losing in the quarterfinal to Jordan Thompson.

In the aforementioned defeat, Nadal injured his hip for a second time, although the latest setback was not related to his first injury 12 months earlier. That ruled him out of the 2024 Australian Open, which Nadal was penciled to play with a protected ranking.

After undergoing scans, Nadal's injury was not disastrous, and he was only out of action for at least two months. However, he missed the Qatar Open in February, which was initially expected to be his comeback tournament.

During his time away from the tour, he played a mid-amateur golf tournament back home in Spain to stay fit. The 22-time Grand Slam champion then traveled to the United States to play the Netflix Slam exhibition and the Indian Wells Masters.

Unfortunately for the Spaniard, he reportedly injured himself while playing compatriot Carlos Alcaraz in Las Vegas in the first-ever live tennis match streamed on Netflix. He withdrew from Indian Wells a day before his scheduled first-round match.

Several tennis fans criticized the controversial move to pull out from Indian Wells at the 11th hour, but seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander shared his verdict on Nadal's injury struggles while speaking on Eurosport.

"When you see that match in Las Vegas and you see that Rafa is out and he’s been practicing, he’s playing golf and all that, you think, ‘Okay, well he must be healthy’. And then when he pulls out, it’s also clear that, no, he isn’t healthy."

"There’s no chance that if Rafa goes to Indian Wells early just like he did to Australia, when he went to Brisbane – and he was looking really good in a couple of matches, and then he has to pull out – it’s not like he’s scared, he’s injured."

The Swede argues that Nadal would not skip or withdraw from a tournament beforehand without being extra cautious about his health. Wilander opined that the 14-time Roland Garros champion is yearning to operate at 100% in a competitive match.

Nadal has previously stated that he will decide whether this will be his farewell season. Last year, he revealed that there was a solid chance that 2024 could be his last. Wilander has since shed light on his long-term playing career.

"Is this the last year for Rafa? Maybe. Most probably. I’m not sure, but certainly we haven’t seen the last of him playing a competitive match when he’s feeling 100%. I think he’s still waiting for that moment."


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