Clay is logical: Rafael Nadal’s return in Miami doesn’t make much sense
DOHA – Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal from the Las Vegas exhibition against Carlos Alcaraz in the North American desert indicates that he will not be at Indian Wells, although it has not been made official. He continues to recover from the hip that took him out of Australia.
It also caused him to pull out the Middle East 250 and 500 events in Doha and Dubai respectively. In Qatar, despite being signed up until last week, they never expected him to make it. Proof of that is that no advertising billboard shows Nadal, as it did, for example, with Aryna Sabalenka and Ons Jabeur in the WTA 500 in Doha that ended this Saturday with victory of Iga Swiatek. The faces of the Belarusian and the Tunisian, who were both withdrawn from the tournament shortly before the start, were all over the venue.
Indian Wells starts three days after the Nevada event, and the Spaniard had scheduled the friendly match there precisely as a preparation for the first Masters 1000 of the season.
For Nadal’s price, the organization of the event in Las Vegas had enough for a local 2×1: Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe will play the semifinal match, and the winner will face Alcaraz in the decisive match.
Rafael Nadal’s return
Nadal’s absence in California will make him lose the 600 points he won in 2022 for reaching the final he lost to Fritz, to which will be added the 500 he will not be able to defend in Acapulco. Those 1100 points less will take him out of the top ten for the first time in 19 years. This is by far the longest streak in men’s tennis.
His 908 consecutive weeks in the top ten are 120 more than Jimmy Connors’ (788). Roger Federer completes the men’s podium with 734 weeks. Nadal is, however, almost two years short of Martina Navratilova’s record (1000).
What about Miami? The event that the winner of 22 Grand Slams has never been able to win, and that he has not disputed since 2017 when it still took place in Key Biscayne looms as a very risky stop for his body and his tennis. Nadal has usually opted to start in lower-demanding events when he has returned from injured periods, and Florida is a totally adverse scenario in the calculation.
Crossing the Atlantic from Mallorca to play a single hard-court event after eight weeks off, and with a clay-court season ahead of him, doesn’t seem to make much sense for Rafael Nadal’s return. Thus, and pending official confirmations, the most logical thing is that Nadal will not move from Europe to arrive in the best shape to Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros. In Paris he will arrive tied with Novak Djokovic in the count of Grand Slams.
Despite the fact that one is not interested and the other is obsessed, it will be the subject with the most eyes on it since the action starts in France.