Rafael Nadal has made good progress in training since returning to action following a hip injury. However, his coach, Carlos Moya, is still worried about how the former world number one’s body will cope with the rigors of Grand Slam tennis. The 37-year-old suffered a muscle issue at Melbourne Park in January that wiped out his season. Nadal will play at the Brisbane International this month ahead of playing in the Jan. 14-28 Australian Open, where he won two of his 22 Grand Slam titles.
The defending champion lost to Mackenzie McDonald in the second round at Melbourne Park after aggravating his iliopsoas injury – the primary flexor of the hip – in the second set. He struggled throughout the match, needing treatment during a medical timeout in the third set. Nadal hoped his recovery from the injury would take up to eight weeks, but it has been slower than expected.
The Spaniard had planned to return for the Madrid Masters, Rome Open, and other clay-court tournaments before playing at Roland Garros – where he has won a record 14 titles – but those plans have been put on hold. The French Open starts in May, and it could be his last chance to lift a trophy on Chatrier before retiring.
Nadal’s iliopsoas injury is the same problem that has troubled him throughout his career, limiting his mobility on the surface where he is most effective. He is renowned for his physical prowess, putting in tremendous effort in the gym to prepare his body for the demands of top-level competition.
Despite the muscle issues, Nadal remains a massive favorite to win his 22nd Grand Slam title in Paris. He has never lost at the French Open and has been unbeatable in the final.
A spokesman for the former world number one, who Moya coaches, said Nadal was set to start his progressive functional rehabilitation in a few hours and that the normal recovery process takes five months.
Moya was previously critical of the ATP tour for its scheduling, often leaving players out of action for long periods. The Spanish coach has also spoken of the difficulty balancing the sports demands and family life.