Rafael Nadal is set to return to action at the Australian Open next year according to Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley.
The tournament organiser revealed he believed the 22-time grand slam winner would make his long-awaited comeback at the tournament.
The Spaniard, who hasn’t featured on the circuit since he suffered a second-round defeat to Mackenzie McDonald in January at Melbourne Park, has been plagued by hip and foot injuries in recent years.
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Nadal has been vocal about his injury troubles with talk of retirement often punctuating the conversation when it comes to the 37-year-old.
“[The pain isn’t gone] but now it is controllable,” Nadal admitted to Spanish broadcaster Movistar.
“There are times when the foot does not let me live in peace. It is difficult for me to even go down the stairs sometimes.”
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However, Tiley provided a major boost to tennis fans around the world when he revealed that Nadal would feature at this year’s Aussie Open.
Although it’s worth noting Tiley also expressed similar sentiments five years ago when he stated Serena Williams would play only for the American to later withdraw from the competition.
“We can reveal exclusively here that Rafa will be back,” Tiley said during an interview with Channel Nine’s Today Show.
“He’s been off for most of the year, and in talking to him over the last few days he confirmed he will be back, which we’re really excited about. That’s awesome!”
Nadal last won the tournament Down Under in 2022 after overcoming Daniil Medvedev to add to his win at the French Open during that year.
The two titles saw him become the most prolific men’s major winner at the time, but he has since been overtaken by Novak Djokovic.
However, Nadal has since responded to Tiley’s comments online, seemingly tempering expectations.
“I appreciate the vote of confidence from the Australian Open,” Nadal wrote on social media.
“I am practising every day and working hard to come back [as soon as possible].”
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When discussing his potential return during the same interview with Movistar, Nadal also moved to downplay hopes of a triumphant return to the sport.
“The dream is not to come back and win Roland Garros or win Australia, so that people don’t get confused, right?” he said.
“I am very aware that at the time I am in my life, all that is very far away. And I don’t say it’s impossible because in the end I say things – I have said it a thousand times – all things in sport, they change very quickly.”
Tiley added that Nadal wouldn’t be returning to Australian shores simply to take part, as he highlighted the legend’s appetite for trophies.
“He’s not going to come into the event unless he thinks he can win it,” Tiley said.
“He’s not going to just show up to play, he’s going to show up to win.”