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When will Rafael Nadal play next? Spaniard planning return from injury

Rafael Nadal has had a stellar career that has seen him collect 22 Grand Slam titles and the Spanish legend will be hoping for one last hurrah before he eventually hangs up his racquet.

Now 37 years of age, Nadal knows his time near the top is limited and accepts that getting near Novak Djokovic’s haul of 24 Grand Slam titles is probably beyond him.

After almost a year out of action, the mighty Mallorcan made his long-awaited return at January's Brisbane International but sustained a hip injury in his quarter-final match with Jordan Thompson, which ruled him out of the Australian Open.

Frustrated by another injury setback, Nadal was expected to feature in the upcoming Qatar Open but the Spaniard has since ruled himself out of the tournament.

He is scheduled to face compatriot Carlos Alcaraz in an exhibition match in Las Vegas on March 3 and Nadal is also keen to participate at the prestigious Indian Wells later that month.

Should he emerge from his ATP comeback unscathed, preparations will begin for the French Open.

The King of Clay will be well aware that his best chance of claiming another Major crown will be at his beloved French Open, a tournament he has made his own down the years with a record-breaking 14 wins.

Nadal’s schedule this season will all be with the French Open in mind and he is 4/1 to conquer Paris again in June.

The Spaniard is 14/1 to win Wimbledon for a third time in July, although that is a tournament he has played in only once since 2019. That has also been the case for him at the US Open, where he last triumphed for a fourth time in 2019.

French Open will be the focus

Nadal had hoped to feature in all Grand Slams this year but his main focus will be the French Open, which he has claimed on 14 occasions.

If Nadal is to make it number 15 in Paris then he knows he needs match practice under his belt, which is why he will be determined to get a few tournaments under his belt before May.

Nadal lifted his first French Open title as a 19-year-old in 2005, beating Mariano Puerta in the final, and from there on it was utter dominance from the Spaniard.

He won eight of the next nine French Open titles between 2006 and 2014, only failing to oblige in 2009 when a fourth-round casualty against Robin Soderling.

From 2017 to 2022 it was normal service resumed for Rafa, who won five of the six renewals in that period of time, meaning 14 of his 18 visits to the French capital have ended with silverware.

It remains to be seen whether Nadal can keep his body on side for long enough to make the French Open, which is why the clay-lover is 4/1 for the title.

If he arrives there fit and healthy, Nadal’s price would shorten. However, on current evidence you’d say he warrants being a bigger price.

Alcaraz is 6/4 to win his first French Open title while defending champion Djokovic is a 9/4 chance.

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