Rafael Nadal - US Open 2022

Rafael Nadal ‘not expecting anything’ upon return to ATP Tour

Rafael Nadal has revealed his expectations upon a long-awaited return to the ATP Tour, with the 22-time Grand Slam champion giving an insight into his comeback in a video on social media.

Nadal has been on the injury sidelines since the 2023 Australian Open, where he obtained a psoas injury in his second round defeat to Mackenzie McDonald.

However, after falling outside the top 600 for the first time in 21 years, Nadal announced that he will be returning at the Brisbane International to kick-off the 2024 season.

In a newly released social media video, the Spaniard went into more detail about how he is feeling going into the new season, “I have been afraid to announce things because in the end it’s a year without competing and it’s a hip operation.

“But what worries me the most is not the hip, it’s everything else. I think I’m ready and I trust and hope that things go well and that it gives me the opportunity to enjoy myself on the court. It’s been a long time so I hope, first of all, to feel again those nerves, that illusion, those fears, those doubts.”

With Nadal’s ranking dropping significantly due to his absence, he will have to rely on wildcards and a protected ranking of No.9.

This means that the Mallorcan can play anyone in the draw, which could include a potential first round meeting against rival and world No.1 Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open.

And Nadal has spoken about his expectations entering this ‘unexplored terrain’, after being inside the world’s top 10 for the past 18 years.

“I expect from myself not to expect anything. This is the truth. To have the ability not to demand myself what I have demanded from myself throughout my career,” explained Nadal. “I believe I’m in a different moment, in a different situation and in an unexplored terrain. I have internalised what I have had throughout my life, which is to demand from myself the maximum.”

The former No.1 continued, “And right now what I really hope is to be able not to do that, not to demand the maximum, to accept that things are going to be very difficult at the beginning and to give myself the necessary time and forgive myself if things go wrong at the beginning, which is a very big possibility.

“But knowing that there may be a not-too-distant future which things can change if I keep the illusion and the spirit of work and the physique responds to me without any doubt.”

Nadal will return to the ATP Tour at the Brisbane International, that begins on Sunday 31st December, before moving onto the Australian Open.

Inside the baseline…

All eyes will be on Nadal at the start of the 2024 tennis season, especially as he has openly admitted that it could be the final of his legendary career. Although Nadal will want to avoid playing top seeds to start his comeback, the top seeds are also going to want to avoid the Spaniard, who has shown time and time again that he should not be underestimated.

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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.