April 15, 2024

Nadal, what a comeback!

349 days later, Rafael Nadal is back! Dropped back to 672nd in the world rankings, the Spaniard is playing his first official singles match since his second-round loss to Mackenzie McDonald (6-4, 6-4, 7-5) at the ATP 250 Brisbane tournament on Tuesday morning. An emotional moment. And to add even more allure to this event so eagerly awaited by tennis fans, Rafa faces a prestigi…

349 days later, Rafael Nadal is back! Dropped back to 672nd in the world rankings, the Spaniard is playing his first official singles match since his second-round loss to Mackenzie McDonald (6-4, 6-4, 7-5) at the ATP 250 Brisbane tournament on Tuesday morning. An emotional moment. And to add even more allure to this event so eagerly awaited by tennis fans, Rafa faces a prestigious qualifier: Dominic Thiem, 98th in the ATP rankings.

Which Rafael Nadal should we expect against the Austrian? I’ve just been training for a month and a half, and at a very good intensity. So I’m not saying anything’s impossible, but for me, the simple fact of being here is already a victory, he told Eurosport, who will be broadcasting his comeback live from 9.30am. I hope I’ll have the chance to enjoy it, just like the public. A public which, on X (ex-Twitter), is byticularly excited at the prospect of reuniting with the Majorcan, who has twice undergone hip surgery.

If the excitement is so great, it’s because aficionados of the former world No.1 expect 2024 to be the last year of his immense career. As he himself acknowledged in a pre-tournament press conference. The problem with saying it’s my last year is that I can’t predict 100% what will happen in the future. But it’s obvious that there’s a good chance this will be the last time I play here in Australia, he declared.

I know in my heart that there’s a good chance that this will be my last season

The percentage is high, but I can’t predict what I’ll be like in six months’ time, he added. I can’t predict whether my body will allow me to produce as much tennis as I have over the last twenty years. I don’t know if my body will to be competitive. I’m not talking about winning the most important competitions, but about making myself happy. It doesn’t matter at the end if I win or not, I want to feel that I can compete with anyone.

And Rafael Nadal concludes: If I feel that way, you never know what my approach will be. I’ve been through a lot to get back on a court. It’s not an easy decision, but I know deep down that there’s a good chance this will be my last season. A way of telling those who have supported him to enjoy it, because nobody knows how long the last dance that the man with 22 Grand Slam titles is about to start against Dominic Thiem will last.