Rafa Nadal will reportedly head to Australia to play a warm-up competition, most likely in Brisbane, before assessing his ability to play the first grand slam of the year. Nadal has slumped to World No.663 having not competed since his injury at the Australian Open this year.
There were reports Nadal would return for Spain's Davis Cup tie, but in reality the 22-time grand slam winner was way off from a comeback. Nadal made it clear he could retire at the Olympics, depending on how Roland Garros played out in 2024.
But a report from Pedro Fullana claims Nadal has decided to travel to Kuwait to practice at his academy, before travelling to Australia. A warm-up tournament will be needed, most likely in Brisbane, before a rest and hopefully the Australian Open.
The move comes as Nadal recently tried to quell the reports around his return. "I'm well, training, and happy," he said in Barcelona. "Until now I didn’t know if I would play tennis again someday, and now I genuinely believe I will. I'm still not ready to say when, but I’m able to train increasingly longer, and the progress is good.
"We know that the pain will never disappear, but I’ve taken a step forward...The steps toward trying to play again have been big and positive, which is what we have been fighting for for several months. I’m confident I’ll be able to say something more specific in the coming weeks.
"I've always maintained hope that I would play again. How much? At what level? It’s difficult to answer that. I never lost hope I'd play. Things gradually become clear with the passing of the weeks. At the moment I’m on the right track."
🇦🇺 According to @PedroFullanaSER, Rafael Nadal WILL travel to Australia to play an ATP 250 event in the first week of 2024 (likely, Brisbane), take a week off after that for practice, and, if all goes well, PLAY the *2024 Australian Open* pic.twitter.com/lvhXyflnuD
— Olly 🎾🇬🇧 (@Olly_Tennis_) November 28, 2023
Craig Tiley confident Rafa Nadal will play Australian Open
Recently, Australian Open boss Craig Tiley admitted he was still confident the Spaniard would make the first grand slam of the year, despite the Spaniard quelling expectations. Tiley was more measured over his recent comments, but reiterated Nadal wants to play next year.
"Rafa has been training, I follow him closely, probably every day, because he's a massive drawcard for us," Tiley said on Thursday. "He wants to play, he's obviously planning on playing … I'm certain Rafa will be here because he's not going to want to miss the opportunity to repeat what he did a couple of years ago."
Nadal only played one grand slam in 2023, which was the Australian Open. Unfortunately, the 22-time grand slam champion injured himself in his second round exit and didn't play tennis again in 2023. However, Nadal has been posting videos to social media and appears hard at work in an attempt to play one more year on the tour before his expected retirement.
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