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Nadal unsure when he’ll be ready to return from “big, big” injury, aiming to be 100% for Roland-Garros

The Spaniard says he is taking time to recover from the hip injury he suffered at the Australian Open

Rafael Nadal Aus Open 2023 Icon SMI / Panoramic

Rafael Nadal has admitted that his recovery from the hip injury that he suffered at the Australian Open is going “very slowly” and says he does not know, yet, where he will return to action.

The 36-year-old has already pulled out of the upcoming sunshine swing of Indian Wells and Miami, a decision which means that for the first time in 18 years, he is set to drop out of the world’s top 10.

Not surprisingly, Nadal is focused on being 100 percent fit in time for Roland-Garros in May, where he will try to win the title for a record 15th time.

“I’m going very slowly. I’m seeing week by week, I’m having tests to see how the injury is evolving,” Nadal told Puntodebreak. “I haven’t spoken much since Australia, but in Australia I had a big, big malfunction (the Spanish word he used was “averia”. It was a very big tear in the muscle, I tore a little bit of the tendon. It’s a very complicated place in the psoas, in all sports, but in tennis we get strength from there, so it’s a slower evolution than we would like.

“We have no choice but to be a little patient; it’s true that the calendar is passing and that I’m no longer 20 years old, and after a year like the one I’ve been having, you get tired, but I do what I can. Every day I’m at the Academy training, gym, recovery, 15 or 20 minutes on the court so that my arm doesn’t degenerate… but right now I’m waiting for the evolution.”

Nadal has been seen back on court in the past week but he’s still not sure when he will be ready to return.

“I do not know if it will be Monte Carlo, I do not know if it will be Barcelona, if it will be Madrid, but I want to play, so when I can be back right away,” he said.

“The important thing for me…is to try to be healthy, when I compete on clay to feel that I can compete for what I want and fight for the ultimate goal, which right now has to be Roland Garros.”

“Not to have been out of the top 10 is practically a miracle”

Nadal will drop out of the top 10 for the first time since April 25, 2005 as a result of his injury and absence, the 600 points dropping off from last year’s run to the Indian Wells final sealing the fate.

But Nadal said staying at the top for so long, without a break, was little short of a miracle.

“I prefer to be in the top 10, it’s obvious,” he said. “But in the end you have to accept things as they come. With all the injuries I’ve had over the last 18 years, not to have been out of the top 10 on any occasion is practically a miracle.

“There has come a time in the last year when a lot of things have happened: a broken rib, two abdominal tears, now the psoas, foot problems… there are many things that, in tennis, with a ranking that lasts a year… you know that if you don’t play, you’re out of the top 10.”

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