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The Madrid Open is probably not “the perfect place” for Rafael Nadal to make his return to action with tennis analyst Alex Corretja saying it might be better for him to skip the tournament.
After four weeks on the sidelines due to a rib stress fracture picked up at the Indian Wells Open, Nadal announced this week that he has returned to training while his former coach and uncle Toni Nadal revealed that he is eyeing the Madrid Open as a comeback event.
However, former world No 2 Corretja does not think that conditions in the Spanish capital is suited to the 21-time Grand Slam winner and feels it would be best if he returns a week later at the Italian Open, although that might leave him a bit undercooked for the French Open.
“I think the major decision for Rafa will be go to Madrid or not. This is probably the most difficult part for Rafa because I believe from what we heard and what we saw that he is practicing,” he told Eurosport.
“In a regular situation he might be ready to play Madrid, but is Madrid the perfect place for Rafa to come back?
“Knowing that it’s the altitude and that through the clay-court season, that was the place that he usually felt a little bit more uncomfortable because he’s got so much power and he doesn’t control the ball as much as he likes, he’s got some opponents that hurt him in Madrid that usually don’t do [so] in a sea-level place.
“So is he going to be ready for Madrid? Maybe he is ready, but I’m not so sure that it will be his pick to get back in Madrid.”
Nadal is a five-time champion in Madrid, but he hasn’t won the title since 2017 while last year he was beaten in the quarter-final by eventual winner Alexander Zverev.
The Spaniard has won 10 titles at the Italian Open and he is the defending champion, having beaten Novak Djokovic in last year’s final.
Corretja added: “If he’s healthy, probably he will go, but I think he will need to think what is best for him in order to be perfect for Roland Garros because [whilst] it would be great if he can be in Madrid and it would be unbelievable if he can be in Rome, he can’t hide that his main goal is to be perfect for Paris.
“And what’s the best preparation for Paris? Two tournaments including that one in Madrid or skip and practice and get ready in Rome to see how it goes? And then Paris – only time will tell that. But it’s going to be a very tricky decision because skipping Madrid would be a pity for him.
“But at the same time, we know how risky Madrid is from a professional point of view.
“Maybe this time he’ll go a little bit more relaxed with less expectations and maybe he feels quite okay to do well, but I don’t think his goal should be [being] great for Madrid. Madrid should be a transition to be perfect for Roland Garros.”
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