Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal. Depositphotos

Australian Open Injury A Blow to Nadal

Rafael Nadal’s defence of his Australian Open title came to an end in the second round of the tournament in 2023. The Spaniard suffered an injury that is expected to keep him out of action for between six and eight weeks. Despite showing a lot of pain on the court, the number one seed in Melbourne continued on the court to see out his match with American player, Mackenzie McDonald. He went down 4-6, 4-6, and 5-7.

The two-time Australian Open champion lifted the trophy in 2022  following an epic five-set encounter with Daniil Medvedev. He was expected to be a strong challenger this year along with Novak Djokovic. His big started well in the opening round when he saw off Great Britain’s Jack Draper in four sets.

Nadal has been plagued with injuries throughout his career, and his latest impairment came with his hip. It was clear during the match with McDonald that his movement was restricted and that he had done serious enough damage. The competitor within the man from Mallorca opted to carry on.

With a rehabilitation programme likely to be put in place, it means Nadal will miss the clay tournament in South America in February. It will also be a race against the clock for the Spaniard to make the MNP Paribas Open and Miami Open, two ATP 1000 events on the calendar in March.

French Open the Next Major Target

Nadal will be aiming to back fit for the French Open at Roland-Garros in Paris in May. The King of Clay has won the Grand Slam tournament a record 14 times, including in 2022 when he beat Casper Ruud in straight sets in the final.

No player in history has dominated a Grand Slam event as Nadal has. His record on the clay in Paris is 112-3. Only two men have been able to beat the former world number one in the event. Robin Soderling defeated him in the fourth round in 2009, while Djokovic got the better of him in the quarter-finals in 2015 and semi-finals in 2021.

Nadal’s first title at Roland-Garros came in 2005, so it’s perhaps no surprise that he will be hoping to lift the trophy again at the French Open in 2023. As it stands, the 36-year-old is currently priced at odds of 11/4 in the outright markets, according to the best betting sites in Spain, such as 888 Sports. Nadal has done so much for the popularity of tennis in Spain, and he is third best in the outright market with many of the bookmakers in the country for the tournament later this year. If you are looking to place a bet on the Spaniard, you can also pick up a sign-up offer, such as the bet £10 get £30 in free bets, which are offered by 888 Sports.

Netflix Documentary

Nadal is one of the players featured on Netflix’s new 10-part series Break Point. Just like All or Nothing in the Premier League and Drive to Survive in Formula One, this fly-on-the-wall series goes behind the scenes to show what professional tennis players go through on and off the courts.

In Breaking Point, we see some of the leading players competing in Grand Slam events and other tournaments on the ATP. Cameras follow the likes of Nadal, Djokovic, Nick Kyrgios and Paula Badosa.

The focus is on Nadal in episode five, which is aptly named “King of Clay”. It not only showcases how the champion prepares for the tournament in France, but also the players who could follow in his footsteps. It is clear from this episode that Nadal’s training for Grand Slam events is thorough and gruelling. 

One of the most fascinating angles covered on Break Point is Nadal’s relationship with his Uncle Toni Nadal. The tennis coach has been in Nadal’s corner throughout his career, but in 2022 he took up the position of Felix Auger-Aliassime’s head coach. The Canadian played Nadal at the French Open that year, which put Toni in an awkward position of trying to plot his nephew’s downfall.

With a total of 22 Grand Slam singles titles, Nadal has cemented his place as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. However, he got to this point with the desire to win every tennis tournament he enters. That attitude could help him add to that tally before he decides to follow his great rival Roger Federer into retirement. 

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