After pulling out of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters this week, where he is an 11-time champion, might Rafael Nadal be ready to return to the tour at a tournament that has a court named after him?

The Spaniard was spotted practicing in Barcelona on Wednesday on Pista Rafael Nadal in what may foretell a long-awaited return to ATP Tour play.

The ATP 500 Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, which Nadal has won a dozen times, begins on April 13. Nadal previously entered the event with his protected ranking of No. 9, and the tournament named its center court for him in 2017.


Nadal has not played an official match since losing to Australia's Jordan Thompson at the Brisbane International (though he did play a pre-Indian Wells exhibition against Carlos Alcaraz in Las Vegas in March). But in an interview with Spanish broadcaster Movistar this week, Nadal said he wasn't ruling out a clay-court comeback on home soil at either Barcelona or Madrid at the end of the month.

Last Thursday, Nadal announced that he wouldn't compete the ATP Masters 1000 event in Monte Carlo because his "body simply won't allow" him to play. After a hip injury ended his 2023 season after the Australian Open, an abdominal injury has set him back this year.


“These are very difficult moments for me, sporting wise,” Nadal wrote in his statement on social media. “Even if I am working hard and making the maximum effort every day with all the will to play and compete again at tournaments that have been very important for me, the truth is that I can’t play today.

"You have no idea how hard this is for me to not be able to play these events.”

Nadal took to social media again in the aftermath of his Wednesday practice. While he stopped short of confirming that he'll play in Barcelona as of now, he said he hoped to be able to.

"I'm here to see how it goes... with the desire to try to play," Nadal wrote. "It's important to say that I don't want to confirm that I will play, I hope so."