Rafael Nadal Could Return Earlier Than Expected, Former Coach Says

Rafael Nadal’s uncle and former coach Toni Nadal has revealed that the world number two is hoping to be fit in time for Spain’s Davis Cup quarter-final clash against Germany on April 6th.

The Spaniard is currently sidelined by a recurrence of a hip injury he first suffered during his quarter-final clash against Marin Cilic at the Australian Open in January. It reoccurred as he was preparing for his comeback at the Mexico Open in Acapulco a month later, and it is unclear when he will return.

Nadal’s doctor Angel Ruiz Cotorro revealed that the injury recurrence was a surprise as they had taken all precautions before the 31-year-old returned to training prior to his return to action in Mexico. He subsequently withdrew from the recently concluded Masters Series event in Indian Wells and the upcoming Miami Open.

Rafael Nadal Nadal could return for Spain’s Davis Cup quarter-final against Germany. In this picture, Rafael Nadal of Spain looks on during a press conference to announce his retirement from the Telcel Mexican Open 2018 at Mextenis Stadium on February 27, 2018 in Acapulco, Mexico. Photo: Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Cotorro made it clear that the injury requires the maximum amount of rest and minimum training but it was expected that Nadal would return in time for the start of the clay court swing of the campaign at the Monte Carlo Masters, which begins on April 14th. However, Nadal senior, who is fondly known on the ATP Tour as Uncle Toni, has confirmed that the Spaniard wishes to return earlier and help his team against Germany in the Davis Cup.

“I spoke with him and his goal is to play it,” Toni was quoted as saying by CNN. “Obviously, we, or rather he, will see how he is. If he’s recovered, then surely he’ll play.”

Nadal has failed to complete a tournament in 2018 having withdrawn from the Australian Open and the Mexico Open. The last time he completed an event was the Shanghai Masters in October, 2017.

Despite the injuries, Nadal will be favorite to win his first title of the season when the first major tournament of the clay court season begins with the Monte Carlo Masters. The tournament in Monaco is followed by the Barcelona Open, the Madrid Masters, the Rome Masters and finally the French Open, which concludes the clay court campaign.

The 16-time men’s singles Grand Slam champion won four of the five clay court events last season, which included an unprecedented 10th title at Roland Garros. However, continued injury struggles for Nadal could hand other players a chance to cash in and claim some of the prestigious titles on offer.

Uncle Toni, however, is confident that Nadal can have success like he had in 2017 on clay if he returns to full fitness in April. The Spaniard’s former coach has labeled him the favorite to have a successful clay court campaign in 2018.

“I haven’t really asked him, but I think he’s got the maximum expectations. Last year, things went really well for him. The year before that … until he picked up the injury, things went very well for him on clay,” Toni added, referring to the wrist injury that forced a tearful Nadal to bail from the 2016 French Open in the first week.

“I don’t think there’s any reason to think that they won’t go as well this year. Each year is more difficult, that’s reality. But I think this year, in my view, the No. 1 guy to have a good clay season is Rafael.”

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