Rafa Nadal slaps down comeback reports in sad update for tennis fans

The Spaniard has remained coy on when he would return from his Australian Open injury.

Rafa Nadal speaking during an interview and Nadal in pain during the Australian Open.
Rafa Nadal (pictured) has hit back at reports he will be making a return at the Monte Carlo Open after admitting he doesn't know his return date. (Images: Twitter/Getty Images)

Rafa Nadal has hit back at reports he will be making a return at the Monte Carlo Masters, with the Spaniard claiming he doesn't know when he will be ready. Nadal has not played a match since his brutal exit at the Australian Open in January, which saw him limp out in the second round.

The Spaniard was in pain during his exit as he soldiered on in order to leave on his own terms as defending champion. Nadal suffered a hip flexor injury during the loss and announced he would be sitting out for 6-8 weeks to recover.

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However, Nadal missed Indian Wells and the Miami Open after remaining in his home town to practice on clay ahead of Roland Garros. The Monte Carlo Masters director recently gave a hint that Nadal would return at his event, claiming the World No.13 was one of the first players to sign-up for the Masters 1000 event.

"Rafa was the first [player] to be registered," tournament director David Massey said. "He really wants to play at the Monte Carlo Masters and is giving himself every chance to take part in the tournament he's so fond of."

The tournament also sent out a tweet to confirm Nadal's entry into the clay-court event, which sparked excitement within the tennis world. But despite plenty of practice videos surfacing of Nadal training with intensity on clay, the Spaniard has never confirmed his participation in Monte Carlo or when he is planning to return.

In a surprising twist, Nadal told Spanish publication Marca that he was not sure if he would be ready in time for the Monte Carlo event. “I don't know who gets this information,” Nadal told Marca. “Obviously if it were true, I would confirm it, but unfortunately I can't. I'm following my course and I don't know when I'll play again, that's the truth.

“I'm in a phase of increasing work. If I knew when I was going to return, I would say so, but I don't know. I can't confirm that I will play in Monte Carlo, things are seen day by day. I prefer to say things when I really know them.” This left fans surprised, with many expecting the Spaniard to line-up on April 8 for the first time in nearly three months.

While Nadal can't confirm his participation, Novak Djokovic is on the entry list and is set to make his second appearance on the tour since his Australian Open triumph. Djokovic has lost just once this year - at the Dubai Tennis Championship.

However, Djokovic wasn't able to enter the US to take part at Indian Wells or the Miami Open. But he will certainly be looking at the Monte Carlo event, having defeated Nadal in the final back in 2013.

Rafael Nadal waves to the crowd at the Australian Open.
Rafael Nadal (pictured) has not played a match since his exit at the Australian Open. (Photo by Bai Xuefei/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Rafa Nadal drops to lowest ranking since 2005

While the Spaniard doesn't appear to be in a rush to return in order to recover from his injury, Nadal has dropped to his lowest ranking since entering the top 10 in 2005. Nadal officially dropped out of the top 10 rankings for the first time in 18 years after withdrawing from Indian Wells.

The 22-time grand slam champ hasn't been outside of the Top 10 rankings since entering after his win at the Barcelona Open when he was 18 years old in 2005. The incredible streak saw him pass tennis great Jimmy Connors previous record of 789 weeks in the Top 10. Nadal has been in the Top 10 for 912 consecutive weeks.

He sits only being Martina Navratilova who was at the top of the women's game for an incredible 1,000 weeks. Nadal did not compete at the 2022 Monte Carlo Open due to injury. He has won the tournament a record 11 times.

Remarkably, Nadal's absence from the Top 10 is compounded with another Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz regaining the World No.1 ranking. The 19-year-old missed the Australian Open with an injury, but has returned to the tour with a 16-1 record. He has lifted two trophies, including Indian Wells, and is currently in the quarter-final of the Miami Open.

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