Rafa decently loosens up

Henry

Rafael Nadal’s tennis engine is systematically starting to idle smoothly again.

The winner of 22 Grand Slam titles on Sunday loosened his grip for the upcoming Indian Wells tournament in an exhibition match against Carlos Alcaraz.

Although the 37-year-old Spaniard lost the tennis spectacle 3-6, 6-4 and 14-12 against his much younger compatriot in Las Vegas, he looked good on the court and impressed his parents with his fighting spirit.

He also turned back the clock hands, as it were, to play a few shots that only Rafael Nadal can come up with.

“I feel much better than I expected,” was his dead honest reply after clinching the first set.

Nadal will play on Wednesday evening or early Thursday morning (SA time) in his Indian Wells opening match against Canada’s Milos Raonic.

The Spanish tennis star missed most of the major tournaments in 2023 after a hip injury and surgery kept him sidelined.

His initial return in January was cut short by yet another injury.

Nadal received medical treatment in the quarter-finals of the Brisbane International tournament after complaining of discomfort in his left thigh. It was later confirmed that he suffered a very small tear in his muscle.

The upcoming match against Raonic also promises to be a tough duel.

Although Nadal has won eight of the ten matches between the two players, the Canadian beat him in their previous match in California.

The Spaniard has already walked away with the Indian Wells laurels three times, while reaching the final in 2022.