Tennis: Nadal admits doubt over planned return at Qatar Open

AFP , Wednesday 14 Feb 2024

Rafael Nadal said Wednesday he is unsure if he will be ready to return to action in Doha next week after he withdrew from the Australian Open with a muscle tear.

Rafael Nadal
File Photo: Rafael Nadal prepares to strike the ball. Photo courtesy of Rafael Nadal.

The Spaniard missed most of last year with a hip injury sustained in Melbourne but made his comeback at the Brisbane International in the lead-up to this year's Australian Open.

However, a small muscle tear forced the 37-year-old to pull out of the season's first Grand Slam.

"It's going to be very tight for Doha. I've had some discomfort these past few weeks and I'm a bit on the limit," Nadal said in an interview with La Sexta television that will be broadcast in full later Wednesday.

"At this point every blow I take, every injury, is a setback not only in tennis and physically, but also mentally."

The 22-time Grand Slam winner is far more optimistic about playing in Indian Wells, the year's first Masters 1000 event which runs from March 6-17 in the California desert.

"I am 100% confident of being in Indian Wells, it's a very special tournament for me. I don't know if it's going to be the last time I play in it, so I would like to be in Indian Wells, for sure."

Nadal was named on the entry list last month for the Qatar Open, to be held February 19-24.

"I would love to be in Doha, what I know is that it's cutting it fine. I see the decision for Doha more at the last minute. I will travel to Indian Wells for sure if there is nothing wrong," he said.

Nadal reiterated that his "main goal is to try to get to the clay season as healthy as possible, to at least give me the chance to enjoy this part of the season", which the Spaniard has dominated in his career.

He has won a record 14 French Open titles and holds an astonishing 112-3 win-loss record at Roland Garros.

Nadal won two matches in Brisbane in January after a year on the sidelines but felt pain in his upper left thigh during a quarter-final loss to Jordan Thompson.

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