Questions are being raised on whether Rafa will be fit for the clay season, his success in the clay court stint has earned him the nickname “King of Clay”.
When Rafael Nadal edged past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to advance to the semi finals at the Sony Ericsson Open, he looked to have found form that would have beaten Roger Federer in the Desert at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The world number two cut out the forehand errors that were very common in his match against Federer, with Tsonga unable to answer the Spaniard’s exceptional speed and accuracy. Rumours started circulating, only hours after the match, that Rafa had suffered some kind of leg injury during the match. The following day, Nadal confirmed he had a left knee injury that needed a lot of treatment and rest.
While the World number 2 has stated he plans to be ready for his home masters tournament in Monte Carlo in two weeks, there are various officials casting doubt on whether he will be ready in time. The impact of his absence in Monte Carlo could have on his game is quite significant as it is the first masters of the year on clay and provides very good preparation for Roland Garros, which is only a month and a half away. Now while Rafa has plenty of time to recover before he begins his only Grand Slam defence, will he be playing his best tennis and able to not hold back on his left knee? We look back to January at this year’s Australian Open, Rafa stated he had to hold back on his stretching and putting weight on his leg, due to a crack before walking on court.
At the moment it’s all just speculation, we will have to wait and see what form the world number two has in a couple of weeks, but if he isn’t able to rely and put full strain on his left knee, I don’t see him defending his title in Monte Carlo or at the French Open.