Nadal fans told when they could see Spaniard back on court after injury woes

Feliciano Lopez has offered some new updates on Rafael Nadal’s return from injury. The 37-year-old hasn’t played a match since January this year and underwent surgery three months ago. But Lopez assured tennis fans that they would see the 22-time Grand Slam champion back in action next year as his rehab was progressing well. And he noted the tournaments that Nadal could choose to play.

Nadal has been absent from the tennis tour this season after picking up a left psoas injury at the Australian Open. The Spaniard originally tried to mount a comeback for the clay season before conceding that his treatment plans weren’t working. He then called a press conference, announcing that he would return in 2024 for what would likely be the final year of his career.

The former world No 1 also underwent arthroscopic hip surgery on the eve of his 37th birthday in June and little has been known of his recovery and comeback plans since. But one of Nadal’s compatriots gave an encouraging update on his positive progress and speculated over his possible schedule for 2024.

“It’s very difficult to say now,” Lopez said. “First of all, he needs to finish the rehab, he is now on the rehab process and everything’s going well so far. But I think it’s gonna be up to him by the end of the season and also it’s going to be, in my opinion, depending on how is he feeling. If he feels that he’s ready to compete, at the best level, he’s going to give himself the opportunity to compete.”

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The former world No 12 continued to throw up the clay season as Nadal’s most obvious choice to return to competition. And Lopez warned the rest of the tour that the 22-time Major winner could still be very dangerous if he was fit. He continued: “But I don’t know if he’s going to go for the full season or if maybe he’s going to play only the clay.

“It’s going to be depending on how is he feeling. But if there is one thing I know, you can never underestimate Rafa, because if he’s physically okay, let’s say 80, 90 per cent, I think he’s still going to be able to challenge the best players in the world still now.

“With Rafa, you can never make a prediction because he’s the one who is able to surprise everyone, even in difficult situations. As well as the clay season, Lopez said the Olympic Games could be a possibility for the 37-year-old as the tennis tournament will be held at the French Open site, Nadal’s most successful stage.

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“But it’s very difficult to predict at the moment because the most important thing now is for him is to be fully recovered,” he added. Either way, Lopez was confident that Nadal could find some form next year after seeing promising signs following his hip surgery. “I’m sure he’s going to be able to compete at a very decent level next year,” he said.

“The plan is to be fully recovered. When I saw Rafa last time, he came for my last tournament in Mallorca and he was looking great, to be honest. It was only a few weeks after the surgery and he was looking great, he was working perfectly and he was feeling healthy and everything is going great so far.”

As for the Australian Open, Lopez was uncertain. “I think it’s very early to make a realistic plan of where is he going to play and when is he going to start playing. But by the end of the year, I think he’s going to be fully recovered. So far, everything’s going great. So maybe Australia is too early. Maybe he doesn’t want play in Australia because maybe he wants to focus only on the clay season.”

Regardless of the schedule, Lopez had good news for Nadal’s fans as he assured them that they would see their man back in action next season. The Spaniard concluded: “I think everything is going great. For all of the tennis fans around the world, I think they’re going to have another opportunity to see Rafa playing some more tennis Where and when? This I don’t know yet, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to be competing next year.”

The US Open returns exclusively to Sky Sports and NOW with feeds to all courts from 28th August.

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