Rafael Nadal kicked off the 2022 season following another serious injury that forced him to stop the engines in August. In January this year, the Spaniard made a perfect comeback. He claimed the 21st Major title at the Australian Open following an epic victory over Daniil Medvedev and gained a massive boost.
Rafa won three out of four tournaments in 2022, conquering Melbourne, the Australian Open and Acapulco and losing the title clash in Indian Wells. The Spaniard is 20-1 this season, and he leads the ATP Race ahead of his young compatriot Carlos Alcaraz.
Things have not been perfect for Nadal, though, as he experienced a fractured rib during his Indian Wells campaign. Nadal lost in the final to Taylor Fritz and was forced to skip his favorite events in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
A seven-time Major winner Mats Wilander believes that Rafa should not have played in Indian Wells after winning Acapulco. That would have given him a month outside the court and more than enough time to prepare for his beloved clay.
The Swede explained the Spaniard’s circle of pushing himself to the limits, getting injured, recovering and returning at his best. Mats understands that Rafa wished to give it a go in Indian Wells after feeling well physically.
Seeking the first crown in the desert since 2013, Nadal came from 5-2 down in the decider against Sebastian Korda for a winning start.
Rafael Nadal has to delay the start of the clay-court season.
The Spaniard defeated Daniel Evans and Reilly Opelka to advance into the quarter-final and prevailed over Nick Kyrgios to enter the last four.
Struggling with his left rib, Nadal battled past the young compatriot Carlos Alcaraz 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in three hours and 12 minutes to secure the 20th consecutive victory. Fighting for the title, Rafa experienced a 6-3, 7-6 loss to Taylor Fritz in two hours and six minutes, wasting his chances in the second set and settling with the runner-up prize.
Nadal should return to action at the Madrid Masters in May. “I expected Rafael Nadal to skip Indian Wells and Miami after winning Acapulco. He probably pushed his body a bit too much. Without Indian Wells, he would have had a month off and enough time to prepare for his favorite clay-court swing.
It’s always the same with Rafa. He loves tennis and competing so much that he goes out there and runs as hard as he can whenever he feels good. It’s a circle of pushing yourself to the limits, getting injured, rehabbing and playing at your best again.
That’s Rafa’s career, and he has made it a pretty decent one. He is the best player of all time on paper and has achieved a lot despite taking breaks after injuries,” Mats Wilander said.