Rafael Nadal has recently started his fifth stint as the world No. 1. With no official match under his belt since that Australian Open rubber against Marin Cilic, the 31-year-old made his comeback last weekend as he helped Spain to secure a spot in the Davis Cup's next round. Valencia was the city designated to hold the meeting between Spain and Germany and one thing was clear as day, Nadal is ready to bounce back after a compelling three sets win over Alexander Zverev.

But, for Nadal, the upcoming clay season is going to be a tough task as he will have to defend thousands of points.

After all, he is the defending champion at Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Roland Garros. With Djokovic, Murray, Federer either out-of-shape or absent, Nadal dismantled the opposition during the clay season back in 2017.

Nadal's short-term schedule could impact the rest of the season too

Having to defend more than 4500 points during the clay season may not be Nadal's only issue. He will start his comeback on the most difficult surface of all. If he makes it through in one piece, he can work on his schedule for the rest fo 2018.

The grass season has stopped being a fertile ground for The Spaniard whose last major success occurred at Wimbledon 2010 when he secured his second, and last Wimbledon title after a final against Tomas Berdych.

In fact, in recent years, Nadal had issues going past the early stages there.

Should he have a clean ride during the clay season, Nadal can start adjusting his schedule not only on grass but during the North American outdoor hard session too. Last year he did poorly in the beginning but gained momentum to eventually build a 16 match winning streak that ended in Shanghai against Roger Federer.

What Federer does can easily be a solution for Nadal

Rafael Nadal's rival made the decision to skip the entire clay swing for the second year in a row. A demanding surface by definition, clay is a real test for most tennis players. But, unlike Federer, Nadal doesn't have that as an option as he tends to be the best on this very surface.

What he can learn from Federer is smart scheduling in order to avoid playing too many events. He's known for his ruthless attitude while on the tennis court, but he's also getting older.

Given the large number of major tennis events held on clay, Rafael Nadal's schedule should completely revolve around this part of the season. Therefore, he could maximize his input while keeping himself relevant for a few more years.