Three Reasons Why Nadal Carefully Chooses Where He Will Play On Comeback

Three Reasons Why Nadal Carefully Chooses Where He Will Play On Comeback

by Nurein Ahmed

Rafael Nadal recently announced that he will not be competing at this year's Middle East swing after withdrawing from the ATP 250 event in Doha.

The absence of Nadal at this year's Qatar Open is a big blow to the tournament organizers who banked on the Spanaird's appearance to create quite the show of bravado. But nevertheless, there is enough star power in the field to generate high revenues from ticket sales.

Nadal was expected to play his second tournament of 2024 and first since injuring his hip at last month's Brisbane International, which incidentally was his comeback tournament after tearing his psoas muscle at the 2023 Australian Open.

It was a setback for the 37-year-old, but the injury was not as serious as it emerged from the initial scans, and Nadal was positive about returning to the court a lot sooner than anticipated. Initially, it was thought that he would appear on the clay courts of South America instead of hard courts.

But choosing to play in Qatar until his withdrawal was quite surprising. But here are three reasons why the Spaniard is carefully picking and choosing what tournament he will play in 2024.

3. Potentially His Last Season

Last year, Nadal revealed there is every possibility that 2024 could be his farewell season. He has since admitted that he could continue to play beyond this season if everything pertaining to his health goes to plan.

So, Nadal elected hard courts instead of quickly diving to the clay, fueled by the likelihood that he might not get another chance to bid farewell at some of the most historical cities and tournaments on the ATP calendar.

This perhaps explains why he chose not to play in South America from the beginning of his comeback, in favor of hard court tournaments in the Middle East and the spring season in the United States, which he has won in the past.

2. Saving His Body For One Last Hurrah At Roland Garros & Olympics?

It is no secret that Nadal would seek every alternative possible so that he can play at the French Open. Last year, that was the case, with the Spaniard giving himself every option to play on the Parisian clay. In the end, it never happened, with Nadal choosing to prolong his career by going under the knife.

But in 2024, he is determined to play at Roland Garros, almost as if everything he is building, in terms of fitness and match sharpness, is geared towards late May.

For Nadal, right now, he is more concerned about where he will play rather than how many tournaments he will play before the French Open. And considering that this is an Olympic year (with the tennis tournament being held at Stade Roland Garros), it only adds the extra incentive to save his body for what would be a befitting sendoff.

1. Courts That Are Less Demanding To the Body

Clay courts can be unforgiving for the body, even though this is a surface that Nadal revels in playing on, and his coach opined it is good for the joints. He has won the most Roland Garros titles of any player. The French Open is considered the hardest Slam to win.

But as he turns 38 this summer, it is only natural that he is losing most of the pace that made him leap from one corner to another with just a few single steps. Clay calls for players to possess incredible endurance because of the slower surface and higher bounces.

For Nadal to favor hard courts looks like a wise decision at this point in time, especially as he tries to ease his body into competition, refine his game, and sharpen his armory without putting any serious physical limits on himself.


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