There is already a supposed date for Rafael Nadal’s reappearance on the circuit. It will be at the next Australian Open, from January 14 to 28, 2024, practically a year after his last official match. The return of the manacor native has been confirmed by Craig Tiley, the director of the first Grand Slam of the season, who could not contain himself when announcing one of the big news of the final part of the year.
«I’m going to give you an exclusive: Rafa will return to Melbourne. He’s been out of the loop for a long time and I’ve been talking to him the last few days. He has confirmed to me that he will return next year. “He is incredible, he is the 2022 champion. It is great news,” said Tiley, who seems to end the great mystery.
Because Nadal had already been seen training these days at his academy in Manacor, a sign that the comeback was getting closer, but the Spaniard had not yet set a date for his return to the courts and had barely spoken, beyond the interview he gave to Movistar a few weeks ago. «I would like to play again, to be competitive again, but I am very aware of the difficulties I face. One is insurmountable: age. The other, the physical problems, which do not allow me to train at 100%,” said Nadal.
«I said that possibly 2024 will be my last year. I stand by it, but I can’t confirm it 100%. I think there’s a good chance so, because I know how my body is, but how I’ll be in four months I don’t know. “I am open to the future,” added the Spaniard, who has not competed since the second round of the 2023 Australian Open.
However, the Balearic team is more cautious. «We cannot confirm anything. We don’t know yet, it’s too early. Rafa has just returned to training. Therefore, Tiley’s words could be understood as a strategy to beautify the tournament and sell more tickets, taking into consideration that the director himself already anticipated the return of Serene Williams in 2018, Roger Federer, in 2021 and Andy Murray, in 2019. , and he failed all of them.
Nadal, little by little
After a host of physical problems, Nadal underwent surgery at the beginning of the summer and has recently resumed on-court exercises, focused on the hard court, making clear his intentions of a return both in Australia and perhaps in one of the preparatory tournaments that They precede the Oceanic Grand Slam. He would be a good litmus test before diving into best-of-five-set matches.
Despite his double crown in Australia (2009 and 2022), Nadal already took it upon himself weeks ago to lower expectations. «Let people not be confused, the dream is not to return and win Roland Garros and Australia. At the time I am in my life that is very far away, I am not saying impossible, because things in sport change very quickly, but I am not delusional. “I am fully aware of the difficulties I face.”
Nadal’s return will occur in circumstances very far from usual, and he will reappear with just 45 points in his locker, those corresponding to last year’s second round in Australia.
Although he will appear beyond the top 600 in the ranking, the Spaniard will have no problems entering the final draw of the Grand Slam. Firstly, because he will receive the invitations he needs for the tournaments he wants, as evidenced by his status as a legend of this sport, and because due to the year he has been out due to injury, he will be able to benefit from the protected ranking rule.
According to this scheme, a tennis player who has been injured for more than six months will be able to enter tournaments with the ranking he had at the time of the injury (Nadal was number two in the world in January 2022), and if he has been injured for more than a year injured, the tournament quota is expanded to twelve, so the man from Manacor will have no problem getting the farewell he deserves on the court. “The ideal would be to be able to compete as much as possible and play the tournaments that I most want,” said the 22 Grand champion.