Rafael Nadal prefers gentle training on clay. Are Miami and Indian Wells off the table?

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Rafael Nadal, a 22-time Major champion, has returned to the court after taking a few weeks off. Nadal engaged in a brief training session on clay while working out at home in Mallorca. Since the Australian Open, Rafa has been suffering with a Grade 2 iliopsoas ailment, missing a few weeks of competition before making a comeback on his preferred clay court.

The Spaniard has not yet made a decision regarding his participation in Miami and Indian Wells. But another indication that he should forego the forthcoming Masters 1000 competitions and instead make his comeback in Monte Carlo in April comes from his training ground.

In 2022, Rafa won two Major championships and appeared poised to finish the season in first place. He only managed four victories the rest of the season because to an abdominal muscle injury he sustained at Wimbledon. The Spaniard didn’t get off to a good start in 2023, losing two United Cup games after being set up, and went to Melbourne lacking confidence.

At the Australian Open, Nadal overcame his first challenge to play Mackenzie McDonald. Nadal suffered a 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 defeat after hurting his left leg late in the second set.

In Mallorca, Rafael Nadal practiced on clay.

The Spanish was defeated by the American in straight sets, marking Rafa’s earliest Major defeat since 2016. In the third set, McDonald faced off against a hurt opponent and played well. To reach the top, Mackenzie produced five breaks out of eight chances while dropping serve just twice.

In the first two games of the tournament, he got off to a fast start and defeated the defending champion 4-1 in less than 20 minutes. In game six, Nadal broke to cut the deficit, and McDonald saved a break point at 5-4 to seal the victory.

Early on in the second set, there were back-to-back breaks, and at 3-3, Rafa was broken once more. In the eighth game, the American delivered an ace to secure the lead, and the Spanish requested a medical timeout for his left hip.

Rafa held in game nine to extend the set despite what appeared to be a struggle after leaving the court to obtain treatment. After Nadal‘s forehand mistake at 5-4, McDonald won the set and got closer to the finish line. Rafa persevered and gave his all despite having trouble running or hitting a backhand in the third set.

At 4-4, he hit an ace on a break point and held to stay in the game. At 5-5, Mackenzie evened the match. She then won the following point with a backhand down the line. In game 12, the American won with a service point to put an end to the Spaniard’s reign.

Nadal pulled out of Doha and Dubai, and his supporters are waiting to hear from him about Indian Wells and Miami.