Rafael Nadal is returning to competitive tennis after more than 300 days and Novak Djokovic should be a worried man. If Nadal can steer clear of more injuries, particularly career-threatening ones, the next few months in the tennis world can very well resemble the boxing world in terms of the vibe involving these two champion players.
Nadal last competed at the Australian Open in January. Entering the tournament as defending champion after winning his 21st grand slam there in 2022, he was hampered by a hip problem and fell to a shock straight-sets defeat against American Mackenzie McDonald in the second round.
He had hip surgery in June, keeping him out of action for the remainder of the season.
Rafael Nadal will return to professional tennis in January after a year-long layoff as he seeks a fitting end to his legendary career.
“After a year away from competition, it’s time to come back,” the Spaniard said in a video posted on social media.
“It will be in Brisbane, the first week of January. I’ll see you there.”
The Brisbane International will help Nadal prepare for the Australian Open – the first major of the year – which Nadal won in 2009 and 2022.
Nadal, a 22-time grand slam champion, will have to enter tournaments using either his injury protected ranking or a wildcard entry as a result of tumbling down the rankings due to his absence.
He is currently No. 663 in the world. In March, he fell out of the top ten for the first time in 17 years.
“I said that 2024 is likely to be my last year and I stand by that. But I cannot confirm it 100%. Even I don’t know,” Nadal said.
For Nadal, the big questions will be his level of play and how his body holds up again to the rigours of professional tennis. If it seems clear that he can no longer compete, the Paris Games at Roland Garros are a perfect exit ramp for the two-time Olympic gold medallist. But after all that Nadal has achieved in his career, a few more miracles can never be ruled out.