This time, it was his back which failed him, leading to another withdrawal from the Majorcan. Able to play a lucrative exhibition in Las Vegas against Carlos Alcaraz, the former world number 1 was not yet visibly ready for a competitive match, he who was to face Milos Raonic in the first round of Indian Wells on Thursday night See you Friday. Each little physical glitch now calls into question the Mallorcan’s abilities to become a 100% tennis player again.

After missing almost the entire 2023 season and undergoing two operations to treat a hip, he played three matches in Brisbane in January, but had to withdraw from the Australian Open, the victim of a new muscle injury. Very reassuring in the game, before his body betrayed him again, the former world number one had proven in Brisbane that he still had the ability – if his body is willing – to return to the highest level. Problem, if the heart and tennis are still there, the body has difficulty keeping up. He also withdrew from the ATP 250 in Doha in February. “It’s a difficult decision but I can’t lie to myself and to thousands of fans,” he said on social media.

Will he experience an end to his career like “Roger Federer”, his friend and great rival, who never returned to the courts during his last comeback? Before definitively retiring in 2022 during the Laver Cup, the Maestro had tried to compete in 2021 with the objective, above all, of shining at Wimbledon, his favorite tournament. After withdrawing, before his round of 16 at Roland-Garros, the Basel native, with a loose knee, still reached the quarter-finals in London on one leg, before conceding a 6-0 against Hubert Hurkacz. For now, the warrior Nadal would dream of playing with weapons in hand for his probable last Roland-Garros. But can he? The obvious: competing on hard courts has become too demanding for the battered champion. And on land, its preferred surface, its body could better withstand shocks.

In his career, punctuated with injuries, he rarely contracted ocher. He hopes to be competitive for Monte Carlo (April 7-14), where he has won ten times. Just as he would like to continue with the Masters 1000 in Madrid (April 24-May 5). With of course Roland-Garros in his sights for his favorite fortnight (May 27-June 9), probably the ultimate objective of his immense career, he who also dreams of competing in his last Olympic Games at Porte d’Auteuil (July 26-11). august). His fans hope to see his unstoppable forehand lariats and his devilish cross backhands again during the spring on clay. Wishful thinking?

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