22-time Major champion Rafael Nadal has hit the training court in Paris ahead of the final Masters 1000 of the season. Nadal arrived in Paris on Wednesday and added a practice session on Thursday, working on his game and hoping to chase the missing title next week.
Rafa has not played singles matches following the US Open fourth-round loss to Frances Tiafoe, dealing with an abdominal injury since Wimbledon. Nadal returned to his house in Mallorca after New York, welcomed his first child and worked out on the training court before Paris, in Turin.
The World No. 2 skipped the second part of 2021 after a foot injury and made a surprising comeback in 2022. The 36-year-old is second on the ATP Rankings list, behind his compatriot Carlos Alcaraz, and has won two major titles and outclassed his biggest rivals, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
However, the Spaniard had to skip some of his favorite tournaments during the clay cycle, running out of steam and not playing well in Madrid and Rome. Nadal left all obstacles behind at Roland Garros, playing with injections in his feet and defeating seven rivals to lift the 14th Parisian trophy.
Rafa was a Wimbledon semi-finalist but was unable to fight Nick Kyrgios. The Spaniard revealed a seven-millimeter tear to his abdomen and left the tournament after an epic quarter-final victory against Taylor Fritz in five sets.
Nadal skipped the Canada Masters and suffered an early loss in Cincinnati.
Maldonado on Rafa Nadal
Rafael Nadal is past his peak despite winning two Grand Slam titles this season, according to leading sports betting analyst Pamela Maldonado.
“I don’t think we’ll see peak Nadal anymore,” Pamela Maldonado said on an episode of the Tennis Channel: Inside-In podcast. “I think those days have passed us…It is going to start becoming a thing where, what he did to his body this year, when he got the injection in order to get through at Roland Garros, that is not sustainable.
That is not something he can repeat year after year and have longevity in this sport,” she added. Rafa couldn’t play at his best in New York, without form or games, still feeling the pain and making an early exit against Frances Tiafoe despite giving his best.
Nadal played alongside Roger Federer in the Laver Cup and went home the next day, still competing far from his best. The Spaniard used the previous weeks to work on his game and get in shape for Paris and Turin, having never won these tournaments and hoping to change that in the coming weeks.