Rafael Nadal - Australian Open 2023

Rafael Nadal legs ‘not the same as they were’ ahead of comeback attempt

Rafael Nadal has the same determination that he ever has according to uncle Toni, although he has admitted he ‘legs are the same as they were ten years ago.’

Nadal is getting ready to make his comeback next month, and he will play the Australian Open should he come through Brisbane without any problems.

It will follow nearly a full year out injured, and the year before that was a physical challenge for the Spaniard too.

He went into the 2022 season with a serious degenerative foot problem that required painkilling injections. He still won the Australian Open and Roland Garros, though, but as soon as he got on top of the foot problem he suffered an abdominal problem at Wimbledon.

This season it has been a hip problem, and he had surgery over the summer in an attempt to correct it.

That has gone well, and Nadal has stepped up the intensity of his practice over the last few weeks. That has left Toni Nadal optimistic about his nephew’s chances, even if it may take him a little time to get up to speed.

“His movement wasn’t very good at first but over the last three weeks he’s been training at a good level,” he told RMC radio’s Bartoli Time. “The important thing is not to try to win, but to have the feeling of playing well.

“He has the will to still be here, he loves tennis, he loves competition, he loves the game. It’s his dream to play the tournaments he loves one last time. The more he plays, the more competitive he will be.

“We know that his legs aren’t the same as they were 10 years ago, but in his head nothing has changed. He still has the same determination.”

Could Rafael Nadal play Novak Djokovic in first round of Australian Open?

It is genuinely highly unlikely but certainly possible that the first round of the Australian Open could throw Nadal and Djokovic together.

The reason for that is that, though it may be inconceivable to many, Nadal will not be seeded at the Australian Open. His ranking has lapsed too far now, so much so that we will need a wildcard or protected ranking just to be in the draw. Recent reports suggest he will take the latter option, but neither will get him seeded.

So while it is possible, a lot would need to happen before it did.

For starters, Nadal would have to actually make it to Australia. He appears to be on track to do that, although he would first need to come through Brisbane unscathed, so it is by no means a gimme.

Then, of course, Djokovic and Nadal would need to be drawn together, which is highly unlikely. Even if they are not, there is a good chance Nadal will have to play a top player early in the competition, though.

Of course, Nadal could make himself a pseudo-seed by beating a seeded player. If, for example, he beat the seventh seed in the first round, Nadal would essentially take that spot in the draw moving forward through the competition.

READ NEXT: Rafael Nadal being unseeded will ‘be crazy’ claims Taylor Fritz

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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.