Rafael Nadal - Brisbane International 2024

Rafael Nadal ’emotional’ after convincing singles return to ATP Tour

Rafael Nadal has been absent from the ATP Tour for almost a year, but the Spaniard cruised to a straight sets victory over Dominic Thiem in Brisbane earlier today.

Nadal beat Thiem, 7-5 6-1, in a repeat of the 2018 and 2019 Roland Garros finals in his first match since January 2023.

The 37-year-old suffered a serious psoas tear against Mackenzie McDonald in the Australian Open last year, and has since been recovering for what he has hinted could be his final season on the ATP Tour.

Nadal has fallen to No.672 in the world during his time away, which is his lowest ranking in 22 years, but received a wildcard for the Brisbane International.

Having already exited in the first round of the doubles tournament alongside Marc Lopez, Nadal had full focus ahead of his singles return against qualifier Thiem.

And Nadal revealed how he felt after returning to winning ways on the matchcourt, “Today is honestly an emotional and important day for me after probably one of the toughest years of my tennis career without a doubt.

“To have the chance to come back after a year and play in front of an amazing crowd and play, I think at a very positive level, is something that will make us feel proud.”

Nadal will play home favourite Jason Kubler in the second round on Thursday, in a first-time meeting between the two.

Inside the baseline…

If tennis has taught anything over the years, it is that you can never count Rafael Nadal out. Although Dominic Thiem is not the same player of three/four years ago, he still managed to win two matches to qualify, so it was a good test for Nadal that he successfully passed. It will be interesting to see how the 22-time Grand Slam champion’s body holds up if he is to make it into the latter stages of the tournament.

READ MORE: Rafael Nadal says decision to retire next year is not set in stone

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.