Rafael Nadal is back in training and has pencilled in a return at the Madrid Open next month following his recovery from a fractured rib sustained during the Indian Wells Masters
Rafael Nadal’s return to the ATP tour is imminent as he continues his recovery from a rib injury. The Spaniard has not played since losing to Taylor Fritz in the final of the Indian Wells Masters last month.
After spending several weeks recovering from a stress fracture, the 35-year-old is targeting the Madrid Open for his return and wants to be in peak condition by the time Roland Garros comes around. Nadal returned to training this week and sent a message to his rivals.
"I'm almost ready, I'll be in Paris too and I'll try to be at the top,” he said. The 21-time major winner’s former coach and uncle Toni appeared to confirm his nephew wants to make his return in front of Spanish fans.
"Rafa told me he intends to play in Madrid,” Toni Nadal told Spanish channel RTVE . “There are still two weeks left to see if everything evolves correctly. If he is fit, he will play."
On Monday, Nadal shared a fitness update on Twitter, as he returned to the practice court. “Today after four weeks without stepping on a tennis court, first light training. What an illusion to step on the earth again!" he wrote.
Nadal will be desperately hoping to avoid any further stumbling blocks on his journey to full fitness before taking to the court in the French capital later this year. Speaking after the Indian Wells final, Nadal spoke of his disappointment at an injury curtailing his unbeaten start to the season.
"Honestly, I am sad because of the way I was not able to compete," Nadal told reporters. "It is tough to have these feelings every day but especially in the final is very, very ugly. But, yeah, in sport it is not about talking of the past. We need to talk about today, and today is a difficult day for me. I had problems breathing. When I'm breathing, when I'm moving, it's like a needle all the time inside here.
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"I get dizzy a little bit because it's painful. It's a kind of pain that limits me a lot. It is not only about pain, I don't feel very well because it affects my breathing. [I am] more than sad [about the breathing] than for the loss, something that I accepted immediately, and even before the match ended, it's more about that I am suffering a little bit, honestly."
The 13-time French Open winner’s sole defeat so far this season does not detract from his phenomenal start to 2022 - the best of his career. Arguably his most impressive Grand Slam win came when he won the Australian Open for a second time in January, becoming the first man to win 21 major titles.
He also won the Melbourne Summer Set prior to his success in Australia, and won a tournament in Acapulco before reaching the Indian Wells final.