Nadal is alive

Nadal is alive, the greatest news in tennis

The big tennis question of the last year has already been answered: Rafael Nadal is alive, he just needs to add matches to be very competitive.

And if he does, what will happen if Nadal can string together tournaments and competitions? He will be, at the age of 38, champion of Roland Garros for the fifteenth time.

An authoritative voice, the Spaniard David Ferrer, says: “If he doesn’t get injured and arrives with matches he will be the clear favourite, he will win Roland Garros”.

Ferrer saw in Las Vegas the remarkable exhibition that Nadal narrowly lost in the super tie break of the third set against his compatriot Carlos Alcaraz. Unlike “Break Point”, this time Netflix delivered a great show and good news: Nadal has the right to dream in 2024.

“He’s back and ready for what’s coming,” believes another Spaniard, Feliciano Lopez, who also followed the match in Las Vegas won 3-6, 6-4, 14-12 by the world number two.

Rafael Nadal, after the 2024 Las Vegas exhibition with Carlos Alcaraz  / SEBASTIÁN FEST

The 14-time Roland Garros champion showed remarkable strokes, his usual hunger and a surprising serve at times. It is true that only the fact that the match was indoors prevented Nadal from converting a home-run at 7-7 in the final tie break, by mis-hitting a forehand and sending the ball skyward, and it is true, too, that the Spaniard moves little, clearly less than before.

“It is very rare to see him do this and in a decisive moment,” said Venezuelan Nicolas Pereira, a former player and expert television commentator.

“I think it’s the inactivity,” his team-mates said, noting also oscillations in the former world number one’s serve, who in the last 15 months played just three tournaments. “Rafa has not been able to practice that shot much, he also had a small contracture that has prevented him from training it”.

That, and not tennis, continues to be the major obstacle for the Mallorcan, who is not fooling himself either.

When the Netflix on-court interviewer told him that this match was keeping away “the ghost of injuries”, Nadal gave a lesson in common sense: “One thing is the level of tennis and another the ghost of injuries. They are two very different things.”

In his favour is that his tennis intelligence is infinite, it is perceived in the points, and if he manages to avoid injury and accumulates matches, the rust will leave his body, he will move better and will no longer do home-runs.

Is he retiring in 2024? Lopez is hesitant to sign it.

“I don’t think even he knows.”

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, they say.

Not this time. The Nadal thing goes much further.

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Clay’s managing editor has covered more than 60 Grand Slam tournaments since 1996. Author of “Sin Red”, a journey around the world following Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal: The Lives and Careers of Two Tennis Legends