Rafael Nadal - Australian Open 2022

Rafael Nadal: ‘I now sincerely believe that I will play tennis again’

Rafael Nadal says he now ‘believes’ for the first time that he will genuinely make a return to top-level tennis.

Nadal has only played four matches this season due to a hip problem. That followed on from months in 2022 in which he was decimated by an abdominal injury as well.

He had previously confirmed that he intended to return for the 2024 season, but that it would also be his last on the ATP Tour.

However, Nadal has always been very cautious about committing to a timeline or even talking too positively about returning at all – until now.

Speaking at the Teknon Tennis Clinic in Barcelona, he said: “If you want something new that I hadn’t told you until now: I didn’t know if I would play tennis again one day. And now, I sincerely believe that I will play again.

“Let it be in one place or another because I’m not ready to say it yet. But I am happy with how things are evolving.”

Whilst bullish on his chances of returning to tennis, Nadal clearly doesn’t really know what level he will be able to achieve once he does.

He is, therefore, trying to manage expectation a little in that regard.

“I don’t know at what level I will be able to return, but I have never lost the illusion,” he said. “I haven’t played for a year and for me, personal success, which is more powerful than general success, is to maintain the illusion of playing again.

“I sense that it will be difficult to regain a high level of tennis, but if I didn’t have the illusion of being competitive again, I wouldn’t have done the work I have done these months and the effort that this entails after a very long career.”

Will Rafael Nadal play at the Australian Open?

There has been some confusion about this in recent weeks, largely created by Australian Open tournament director Craig Tilley.

Tilley is an astute promoter, and when given the opportunity to speak publicly he always manages to throw out some headline-grabbing stuff.

He recently said that Nadal had given him assurances he would be back and playing in time to take up his place in the Australian Open draw, and that news understandably spread.

However, Tilley used to do the same with Roger Federer during his injuries, and Nadal came out himself to deny he had promised to play Melbourne.

This week, Nadal has again stressed he does not yet know when he will return, but he did say that he would be the one to announce it.

“There is nothing to all this. I understand the interest of the news but in the end when this happens, or when I know I’m coming back, I’ll say it.

“When I know what I’ll do, I’ll be the first to tell you anything.”

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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.