Spanish world No.1 Rafael Nadal says he will return to action at a hard-court event in Acapulco, Mexico, in late February.
That means an encouragingly speedy recovery for the 16-time Grand Slam champion after he suffered a muscle tear in his right hip that forced him to retire in the fifth set of his quarter-final match at this month’s Australian Open.
Nadal said he planned to compete at Acapulco in the last week of February and then at two other hard-court tournaments in March – the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and the Miami Open.
But the Spaniard, who is almost universally regarded as the greatest clay-court player of all time, said he was focused on being at top form at the “most important time of year”.
Nadal has in his sights the Monte-Carlo Masters, the Madrid Open, the Italian Open and the French Open – played between mid-April and early June.
Referring to his disappointing exit at the Australian Open, where he was forced to retire while trailing Croatia’s Marin Cilic 3-6 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 2-0, Nadal said the injury was just “a small tear, but it was impossible to keep going”.
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