Rafael Nadal Wimbledon 2022

Rafael Nadal: I’m not expecting to come back and win Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal has revealed how his scheduled comeback is playing out, with the Spaniard describing rival Novak Djokovic as ‘the best’.

Nadal has been absent from the ATP tour since January, when he fell to a second round defeat at the Australian Open to Mackenzie McDonald.

This was when the 22-time Grand Slam champion picked up the psoas injury that has kept him out of action ever since, with Nadal being forced to withdraw from his beloved Roland Garros for the first time since 2004.

He underwent arthroscopic hip surgery back in June, as he plans to return for 2024 in what he claims could be his final year as a professional tennis player.

Nadal spoke to Movistar in Spain about his recovery, “I would like to play again, to be competitive. But I’m not expecting to come back and win Roland Garros or Australia, so that people are not disoriented. The 2024 Olympics in Paris would be a nice end to my career if I feel good. My schedule can change if I feel I can have a chance to win at Roland Garros.

“I am fully aware that at the time when I am in my life, it is a distant idea. I don’t say ‘impossible’. I’ve said it a thousand times, things change very quickly in sport.”

The 37-year-old won two majors in 2022, but despite this still faced a difficult year with injuries and explained how he had ‘no peace of mind’, as he constantly was concerned about his fitness.

“But since Indian Wells last year, it has been a hard year and a half, with no peace of mind at all. The results mask the reality of day-to-day life,” explained Nadal. “Without surgery, I was not going to recover by stopping for a long time. I made the decision and apparently, it turned out well.”

He continued, “I’m not sure what I’m going to do in 2024, because of the way I am, I can’t be clear. My way of facing the year changes depending on the objectives. I don’t even have the need to respond to myself. My hope is in two months to know how and where I am.

“Yes, I can play but I am not in a position to win at Roland-Garros because maybe I would like a farewell tour. These are answers that I cannot give now.”

Since Nadal’s last match, Djokovic has gone onto equal and now surpass his Grand Slam tally for the first time in his career with 24 majors to his name.

However, Nadal insists that he is ‘not frustrated’ by this, “I’m not frustrated for a simple reason. I believe that, within my means, I have done everything possible to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible for me. Novak could be frustrated because he lives everything more intensely and that’s why he’s the best.

“I have been one of the most inactive players on the circuit for many years. I’ve missed four and a half years of Grand Slams. That’s what the sport is all about. Djokovic is also more successful because he has had a level of fitness/physique that has allowed him to play more than me.”

Nadal concluded by speaking about what his plans are post-tennis, “I have many projects and things are going to develop naturally.

“If I stop today I can start working on many things that I have underway, personal projects, the [Rafa Nadal] Academy. I can see myself as a coach, but it’s not going to be the bulk of my life.”

Rafael Nadal Career Achievements

As Rafael Nadal looks to wind down his tennis career, we at Tennishead have reflected on some of his greatest achievements:

Career-high: No.1 (209 weeks)

ATP titles: 92

Grand Slam titles: 22

ATP Masters 1000 titles: 36

Olympic medals: 2 (Singles Gold – 2008, Doubles Gold – 2016)

Davis Cup titles: 5 (2004, 2008, 2009, 2011 & 2019)

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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.