Rafael Nadal denies Australian Open tournament director’s return ‘confirmation’
Rafael Nadal has been forced to deny reports made by Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley, who also gave an update on the likes of Nick Kyrgios and Naomi Osaka.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion has not returned since and has actually fallen outside the top 100 for the first time since 2003.
Nadal has suggested that 2024 could be his last season as a professional tennis player, with the Spaniard currently recovering from arthroscopic surgery.
However, it appears that his recovery is going well, with the 37-year-old recently uploading footage of him practicing on social media and Tiley’s confirmation has provided more positive news for Nadal fans.
“We can reveal exclusively here that Rafa will be back,” announced Tiley. “He’s been off for most of the year, and in talking to him over the last few days, he confirmed he will be back, which we’re really excited about, the champion of 2022. That’s awesome.”
Rafael Nadal is back at practice
RAFAEL NADAL IS BACK AT PRACTICE!
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) October 4, 2023
However, a spokesperson for Nadal has been forced to deny these reports, claiming that it is ‘too early’ to confirm anything yet, “We have seen the reports and comments but as of today we wouldn’t be able to confirm.
“Definitely we don’t know yet. Too early to say. We have definitely not released any date cause we simply don’t know it. Rafa is just starting to practice.”
Another player that has had an injury plagued 2023 is Nick Kyrgios, who has in fact only played one match all year, losing in straight sets to Yibing Wu in Stuttgart.
The Aussie has struggled due to a variety of different injuries, with a knee injury requiring surgery, a foot problem stopping him return to Roland Garros and most recently a wrist issue preventing Kyrgios from competing at Wimbledon and the US Open.
But, Tiley ‘expects’ to see the 2022 Wimbledon finalist return at his home major next year, “We know Nick’s been in training, wanting to return as well. So we expect to see him back.”
There has been a lot of discussion around mothers returning to success on the WTA Tour this year, and the Australian Open boss has commented on the potential of former champions Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki’s participation at the first major of 2024.
“We’ll welcome them – and their families – back to Melbourne with open arms and can’t wait to see what their next chapter brings,” said Tiley.
Well that was a cool little intermission, now back to your regularly scheduled program 🎾✌🏾💕 pic.twitter.com/M6jZXqbRMm
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) July 13, 2023
We will see how these players get on when the 2024 Australian Open begins on Sunday 14th January, with the tournament being extended to 15 days for the first time in history.
Inside the baseline…
While it is an incredibly exciting prospect for Rafael Nadal to return at the tournament where he has been champion twice before, it would not be the first time that the Australian Open has ‘confirmed’ someone’s participation just for them to later withdraw (E.g. Serena Williams in 2018 & Andy Murray in 2020). However, Nadal does seem on track according to his long-time doctor and it does appear that this confirmation is more likely than not.
Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open
Although Nadal is a two-time champion in Melbourne, it is actually his joint-worst performing major in terms of titles and win percentage alongside Wimbledon:
Nadal’s win-loss record at the Australian Open: 77-16 (83%)
Best Result: Won (2009 & 2022)
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