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Tuesday May 28, 2024

Nadal still the ultimate test on clay, says Tsitsipas

By Reuters
April 16, 2024
Greek tennis player Stefanos Tsitsipas. — AFP/File
Greek tennis player Stefanos Tsitsipas. — AFP/File

BARCELONA: Rafa Nadal will return to action this week in Barcelona and play just his second event of an injury-hit season and while the Spaniard lacks match practice Stefanos Tsitsipas said it would be no surprise to see him battling for the title in the final.

Nadal, who has said he expects to retire after the 2024 season, returned to the tour in Brisbane in January after nearly a year out with a hip flexor injury and the 37-year-old has not played an ATP tournament since due to a muscle issue.

The 22-times Grand Slam champion looked set to make another comeback at the Monte Carlo Masters this month but withdrew days before the start of the claycourt tournament, saying his body would not allow him to play.

Nadal has won the Barcelona title 12 times and is drawn to play Flavio Cobolli on Tuesday, and while there has been no word on his status Tsitsipas said the Spaniard would have no trouble finding form on his favourite surface.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Rafa in the final of Barcelona, because that’s something he has done over and over again for years and years,” Tsitsipas, who won the Monte Carlo title for a third time on Sunday, told reporters.

“What he does have is this competitiveness and this fierce tennis when he gets into the momentum that sometimes feels like on the outside perspective unstoppable ... I think he’s the ultimate challenge on clay.