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It’s official – we’re just weeks away from Nadal’s return to professional tennis. Rumours about Nadal’s 2024 comeback have been rife for the better part of a few months now. Yet finally, the Spaniard has given his comeback date, and it’s much sooner than many had anticipated.
To get right to it, Nadal’s return to the ATP Tour will take place in Brisbane, Australia. This is one of several 250 events that are held as part of the warm-up for the ATP Australian Open 2024. But don’t let the category of this event lead you to believe that the competition will be somewhat weak or easy for a guy like Rafael Nadal.
Given that there are only 250 events scheduled for the build-up to the 2024 Australian Open, I expect all of the top guys to be competing. That’s because these are the only tournaments available, alongside the 2024 United Cup, that will enable the players to test their skills and sharpen up ahead of the first Grand Slam of the season.
Speaking of which, Nadal’s return, which has been confirmed in his own words, is an incredibly exciting turn of events. After all, many doubted whether he would ever return to professional tennis after missing pretty much the entire 2023 season.
However, the fact that he has announced his return, which is much sooner than anticipated, creates the sense that things might just be much better than Nadal is letting on. And this has led me to discuss the topic for today – five reasons why we should all be excited about Nadal’s return down under.
Get ready for Nadal’s return in Australia – five key points to take note of
- 1 Get ready for Nadal’s return in Australia – five key points to take note of
- 2 The prerequisites outlined for Nadal’s return – as stated by Nadal himself
- 3 He has been following a solid training schedule
- 4 Djokovic’s declaration that he wants ‘one more match’ with Rafael Nadal
- 5 The return of another legend to fend off the ATPs rising stars
- 6 The sad reality of Nadal’s return – every tournament could be his last appearance
Following a video announcement, which accumulated views in the millions, Nadal made it clear that he’s coming back to the ATP Tour. Ironically, it was Australia 2023 where he suffered the injury that ultimately took him out of the entire 2023 season. So pretty much one year further on, Nadal’s return is set to take place where it all went wrong in the first place.
Then again, there are many occasions in Australia where it has all gone right for Rafael Nadal too. As for his scheduled return in time for the Brisbane International, Nadal hasn’t played in this tournament since 2017. So incredibly, seven years later, Nadal is back, and I’m sure he isn’t just going there to make up the numbers.
In fact, given the way that Nadal has been throughout his career in reference to his fighting spirit, I have a sneaky feeling that the complete opposite is true. So, given this positive twist regarding Nadal’s return to professional tennis, what exactly are the five reasons to be excited about the Spaniard’s comeback in January 2024?
The prerequisites outlined for Nadal’s return – as stated by Nadal himself
I believe that the only way to give Nadal’s return some real justice is to take you back to Nadal’s comments on his possible comeback in the first place. Throughout the course of many months, Nadal made his views on his comeback very clear – he wouldn’t return just to be any old participant.
In fact, he suggested that he would only follow through on his return if he believed that he could compete at a high level. Reading between the lines, this indicates that Rafael Nadal believes that he can still come and challenge the best players in the world. Whether this means that he feels ready to challenge for the biggest trophies in the sport or not, however, is something we will only realize when he takes to the match court.
But either way, if Nadal’s return leads to even a fraction of what he can produce when he is ‘feeling it’ on the court, we are all in for a treat. Additionally, if he manages to set up some matches with the top guys in Brisbane, which will depend on how the draw goes and whether he wins a few rounds or not, this could bring out the fire in him!
And let’s be honest, that’s what made us all fall in love with Rafael Nadal and root for him throughout his career.
He has been following a solid training schedule
If you’ve been monitoring Nadal’s social media accounts, as well as others who have been documenting Nadal’s return, you’ll have seen that he has been hitting the training schedule hard. I say this in terms of his practice sessions on the court, as well as his dedication in the gym. Then again, this is Rafael Nadal we are talking about – so would we expect anything less?
Based on the intensity of his training regime, purely from what I’ve witnessed through the sources referenced above, I believe Nadal is looking to impress in Brisbane. It seems as though he is really pushing himself to get his body ready for the demands of the ATP Tour. And assuming he still has that hunger to overcome the odds, which he has had all of his career, I can’t see him stopping until he is more than satisfied.
I say this in terms of both his physical fitness and his level of play. However, what can be done on a practice court is one thing. Translating it onto the match court is another, so I am fascinated to see how this intensive schedule prepares him for Brisbane.
Djokovic’s declaration that he wants ‘one more match’ with Rafael Nadal
It’s no great secret that there has been a bit of back and forth between Djokovic and Nadal in recent months, largely surrounding the GOAT debate. But with that said, the media tends to do a tremendous job at overdramatizing what has been done or said. So while yes, there may have been a slight bit of controversy between the two, I’m sure that the huge respect for each other is still firmly there.
I wanted to make you aware of this for a couple of reasons, all of which have an impact on why we should be excited about Nadal’s return in January 2024. So, let me provide the first reason – it will stoke the fire in Nadal’s belly to get on the court to face Novak Djokovic once again. Although Djokovic seemed excited about the prospect of playing Nadal again, make no mistake, he will want to win!
Likewise, I’m sure that Rafael Nadal would love to play Djokovic and beat him. After all, besides maybe Roger Federer, Djokovic has been his biggest rival. And during Nadal’s absence, Djokovic has surpassed him by two clear Grand Slam titles. This included a title at Roland Garros in 2023, which must have stung Nadal to some degree.
The return of another legend to fend off the ATPs rising stars
Putting the legendary rivalry between Nadal and Djokovic to one side, another exciting prospect for Nadal’s return is the potential for him to face the next generation of superstars in tennis. As I’m sure you know, once Federer retired, it was up to Djokovic and Nadal to defend their legendary grip on the ATP Tour.
However, when Nadal also left the scene in January 2023, Djokovic was out there on his own as the last standing from the famous ‘big three’. Needless to say, Djokovic’s 2023 season turned out okay! But now, Nadal is back to join the Serbian, and they will fight side by side to prevent the next-gen from taking over.
Of course, this opens up all kinds of rivalries that could emerge following Nadal’s return. To be specific, possible encounters with the likes of Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner, Holger Rune, and many other youngsters are truly mouthwatering.
Furthermore, this will be an opportunity for Nadal to show these young guns exactly why he will go down as one of the best tennis players of all time.
The sad reality of Nadal’s return – every tournament could be his last appearance
Although it seems like Nadal might be swaying away from a guaranteed ‘goodbye tour’ in 2024, let’s not forget that he is 37 years of age, he’s now a father, and his body has taken some serious beatings in recent years. So, as thrilled as many of us are about Nadal’s return, there is a heavy sense of inevitability about the whole ‘retirement’ thing.
Naturally, this creates a situation in which every tournament that Rafael Nadal competes in throughout 2024 could well be his last in that event. Personally, I feel that this will give Nadal a huge boost in motivation to perform at his very best. And we will get a glimpse of whether this is the case when the ATP 250 event in Brisbane begins.
With that in mind, we cannot assume that Nadal will be playing a full schedule in 2024. In fact, this seems highly unlikely. I believe he will be more selective with what tournaments he plays and subsequently prioritizes, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he gave special attention to the clay court swing.
Nevertheless, whatever tournaments do feature in Nadal’s return to professional tennis, they will be worth tuning in for – to say the very least!
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