Expectations for Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells

A challenging draw could pose problems for Nadal

David Becker/GettyImages
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Fans were so happy to see Rafael Nadal back on the court at Sunday's Netflix Slam. Nadal moved and hit the ball extremely well despite not playing much tennis in the past 14 months. His Netflix Slam outing could have raised expectations for Nadal's chances at Indian Wells this week, but his draw could temper those hopes.

Nadal opens his Indian Wells tournament on Thursday night March 7 with Milos Raonic. Raonic has dealt with his share of injuries in the past few years, but he is far from an easy out in the first round. Should he get past Raonic, he would face Holger Rune.

So much for getting his feet wet with some easy matches in the early rounds. Those are two tough matches, and Nadal is likely taking one at a time and not even looking past these two. For those wondering if we could see a match against Djokovic, a semifinal meeting is possible but not something to focus on at this point.

Nadal admits that his Indian Wells preparation was not great

In addition to digesting a challenging draw, Nadal admitted before the Netflix Slam that his Indian Wells preparations did not go well. He thought his preparation for Brisbane in January was better, but he had to withdraw with injury.

Nadal is the ultimate competitor and knows his body. One of the concerns is the lack of match play over a series of days. Managing the schedule and getting the appropriate rest and recovery between matches are concerns. His goal is to come out of Indian Wells (and the hardcourt season) "unscathed" for the clay court season.

He is shooting for hopefully two attempts to win at Roland Garros in 2024, first at the French Open in May and second at the Paris Olympics in July/August.

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