Rafa Nadal's concerning revelation amid successful tennis return

The former World No.1 made a winning return to tennis defeating Dominic Thiem 7-5 6-1 at the Brisbane International.

Pictured here Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal has admitted he doesn't have full confidence in his movement around the court as he made a successful return from an injury layoff at the Brisbane International. Image: Getty

Rafa Nadal was over the moon on his return to professional singles tennis on Tuesday after nearly a year on the sidelines but admits he still 'feels scared' about how his body will hold up as he moves around the court. The Spaniard made a stylish and successful return from a career-threatening hip injury surging into the second round of the Brisbane International in front of a sold-out centre-court crowd.

The 37-year-old needed just two sets and 88 minutes to defeat 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem 7-5 6-1. Speaking after the match Nadal was emotional as he revealed he was proud to be back although still has concerns about his body ahead of the Australian Open.

LOVELY: Petra Kvitova news delights tennis fans amid Naomi Osaka return

'DIDN'T SAY THAT': Rafa Nadal's shock announcement amid tennis return

"Today is honestly an emotional and important day for me," he said. "After probably one of the toughest years of my tennis career without a doubt, I have the chance to come back after a year and play in front of an amazing crowd. And play at the very positive level on the first day (of my comeback) is something that probably make us feel proud now to myself, to all the family that have been there every single day during the last year."

"For me the main thing is stay healthy. I really think that I didn't forget how to play tennis. The only thing that's going to be difficult to make it in a professional match and in a very high level of tennis.

Spain's Rafael Nadal acknowledges the spectators after winning his men's singles match against Austria's Dominic Thiem at the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane on January 2, 2024. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
Rafa Nadal needed just two sets and 88 minutes to defeat 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem 7-5 6-1. Image: Getty

"You need to recover the confidence and the movements, that takes time ... After the surgery, you feel scared sometimes to do a kind of movement and you need to recover the speed and reading the ball and (doing) things in an automatic way."

Nadal's wife Maria Francisca, father Sebastian and coach, former world No.1 Carlos Moya, were among the star's entourage courtside in what is believed to be the tennis great's final trip to Australia. "The support is super important, especially when in the low moments," Nadal said.

"So to have the chance to receive thousands of messages during all this year and having great people next to me every single day makes the difference without a doubt. I missed being healthy. I missed, of course, feeling myself competitive and playing in front of full crowds like this."

Nadal will continue his comeback on Thursday against Australian Jason Kubler. The Aussie was locked up at a set a piece in his first-round match on Tuesday night when Russian eighth seed and 2021 Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev retired with injury after winning the second set.

Rafa Nadal's coach fears how star's body will hold up at Australian Open

Nadal's coach Carlos Moya has previously voiced his fears over how the former World No.1's body will hold up against the rigours of grand slam tennis. The former World No.1 underwent surgery on his hip in June after multiple setbacks, which ruled him out for the 2023 season.

In what is likely Nadal's farewell tour, Moya is worried about how the 37-year-old's body will hold up. "Rafa's going to go from training, which he's doing very well, to competing. It's impossible to have the same conditions in training as in a match," Moya said in an interview with the ATP Tour.

"Playing the best of five sets, win, rest, return to court two days later ... That's the doubt I have right now, especially for a grand slam. But we have time. If the Australian Open started tomorrow, it would be a real fear."

- with AAP

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.