It’s been a month since Rafael Nadal played his last match, but good news is around the corner—the 16-time Grand Slam champion is scheduled to make his return to competition next week in Acapulco.
The Australian swing didn’t go as planned for Nadal. He withdrew from Brisbane due to a knee injury and then, after reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, he was forced to retire with a hip injury while trailing Marin Cilic 2-0 in the fifth set. Cilic ended up making the final, where he lost to Roger Federer.
“I was fighting for it. I was two sets to one up,” Nadal said in his post-match press conference. “I just have to accept it, recover, go back home, stay with my people and keep going. That’s all.”
Nadal had an MRI the next day, which showed a Grade 1 injury of his iliopsoas on his right leg. After physiotherapy and rehabilitation, he was expected to start working his way back to the tennis court after two weeks with the intention of rejoining the tour for Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami.
In a few days, the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco—an ATP World Tour 500-level tournament—will begin. Nadal, the reigning French Open champion and US Open champion, is scheduled to be there.
The world No. 2 is 14-1 in Acapulco, winning the title twice: first, when it was held on clay in 2005 (beating Albert Montanes in the final); and then again in 2013 (beating David Ferrer in the final). Last year, in his first try at the event since it switched to hard courts, he didn’t drop a set en route to the final, which included a 6-1 6-2 win over Cilic in the semifinals. But Nadal was edged by American Sam Querrey in the final, 6-3 7-6 (3).
With Federer defending champion's points at back-to-back Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami in March, Nadal could help his chances of returning to No. 1 with a solid showing in Acapulco.
The Spaniard will also have a chance at tying Federer’s all-time record for most career ATP World Tour 500-level titles. After the Australian Open, they were tied for the record at 19, but Federer won his 20th on indoor hard courts in Rotterdam last week. Can Nadal get his 20th in Acapulco?
TENNIS.com will have all the latest on Nadal’s comeback in Acapulco, and you can also watch it all live with Tennis Channel, Tennis Channel Plus and the Tennis Channel app—click here for details.
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