Rafael Nadal - Australian Open 2023

Rafael Nadal facing ‘added problem’ for Australian Open return, admits Uncle Toni

Rafael Nadal is on track to return to action at the Australian Open, says his uncle and former coach Toni Nadal, although he does envisage an additional problem.

The Spanish legend has not played since Australia this year as he battles hip and psoas injuries. That has led him to announce that he expects next season to be his last in tennis.

Whether that is a realistic goal remains to be seen, although Uncle Toni appears to be confident that we have not seen the last of Nadal on a tennis court.

“I believe that it (his return) will come at the Australian Open,” Toni Nadal told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.

“Obviously my nephew intends to be cautious, which is what he has to do. Every day he is getting a little better. It is true that it has been a very long injury, but hey, it is what it is.

“It is a high-level sport; in the end it is almost obligatory to play with pain, unfortunately, because you push your body to the limit. Pushing it to the limit is what makes you have all these problems.”

Another subplot to a potential Australian Open return at the Australian Open will be that he will not be seeded.

It is practically unheard of in his career, but his injury problems have seen him drop to number 240 in the world rankings. That means he will need a wildcard to enter – and he won’t be seeded, and therefore vulnerable to having to face a top player in the first round.

“He is aware that the situation is complicated,” Toni Nadal said. “Let’s say he manages to get to Australia; it will not be easy to compete again with an added problem.

“He will not be seeded, so he could face a high-level player. When Rafa plays a Grand Slam, he is usually given an affordable opponent to give him momentum, allowing him to be a dangerous threat from the quarterfinals onwards.”

Will Rafael Nadal play the Australian Open?

It’s always been notoriously difficult to predict Nadal’s injury situation. The Spaniard has always insisted upon managing his body carefully and not returning before he feels like he is 100%.

As things stand, he is targeting a return for the start of the 2024 season, although he has often set targets and delayed them before in his career.

One man who is very confident about Nadal’s return in Melbourne is Australian Open chief Craig Tiley. Last month, he told the Today Show: “We can reveal exclusively here that Rafa will be back.

“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. That’s awesome.

“He’s not going to come into the event unless he thinks he can win it. He’s not going to just show up to play, he’s going to show up to win.”

Nadal responded on X (formerly Twitter) but did not confirm the story. Instead, he described it as a ‘vote of confidence.’

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic surpasses Rafael Nadal statistic with Paris win

 Join >> Receive $700/£600 of tennis gear from the Tennishead CLUB

 Social >> FacebookTwitter & YouTube

 Read >> World’s best tennis magazine

 Shop >> Lowest price tennis gear from our trusted partner 

Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.