Rafael Nadal was looking sharp on the practice courts in a video posted to social media, proving that the tennis icon might be fit for the Australian Open in January. Nadal has been absent for most of the past year having struggled with a hip injury.
The 37-year-old underwent surgeries to correct issues in his hip and his psoas tendon earlier this year. He has subsequently not played since January’s Australian Open, in which he was surprisingly beaten in the second round.
A clip shared to social media shows Nadal appearing to be nearing a return to full fitness. Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley revealed recently that the Spaniard will play at the tournament. That, though, is a notion that was immediately played down by the sporting icon.
Nadal might have now given credence to Tiley’s claims, however, looking fit and sharp in a clip shared on X. His movements seem to be much more natural than late 2022 and in this year’s Australian Open, when his hip injuries were clearly causing some discomfort.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion ruled himself out of the rest of 2023 but there was some hope among fans of him making a comeback at the Australian Open in the second half of January 2024. That speculation was fuelled when Tiley told Eurosport in September: “We can reveal exclusively here that Rafa will be back.
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“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.
“He’s not going to come into the event unless he thinks he can win it. He’s not going to just show up to play, he’s going to show up to win.”
However, Nadal was much more cautious when speaking about his prospects of playing in Melbourne. Talking to CNN in October, he said that his participation will depend on how he feels fitness and tennis-wise at the time.
“If you ask me where I’d like to compete, well, I’d like to compete in the tournaments that have been important for me and which are important for the whole world,” Nadal said.
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“It’s going to depend on how I feel physically and tennis wise, when I can really test myself. Right now, this is totally uncertain. We’ll see what happens and I have to have a little bit of patience … I’m not adding more pressure than is already there.”
He added: “Physically, I feel better than a while ago and I hope worse than what I’ll feel like in two weeks’ time.
“In the end, it’s a recovery process, which is hard. The operation was an invasive operation, a major operation. I’m accepting things as they come. I’m trying to get better and take steps forward every day and that’s where we are.”
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