Rafael Nadal has chosen the ATP 250 tournament in Brisbane, from 31 December 2023 to 7 January 2024, to return to playing an official tennis match, almost a year after the serious injury which occurred at the 2023 Australian Open.
Then, as the 12th month of the year dies, the last tennis season of his glorious career will begin. Or at least, that's what the 37-year-old Spanish tennis player feared months ago. Rafa will show up in Brisbane as world no.663: his last match, as mentioned a few lines ago, dates back to 18 January 2023, when he lost in three sets against the American Mackenzie McDonald, in Melborune.
There is a lot of anticipation: fans, media and insiders are already counting down the days for him to come back. What more can Nadal give us? Definitely an emotion. Seeing him return to the court again will be wonderful for all sports lovers.
The example I'm about to give is particular: It would be like seeing a tyrannosaurus rex competing with lions, elephants, horses and bison! A piece of history that reemerges from the past.
An happy ending; this is what Rafa wants from the next season
But, now that we have said what to expect from an emotional point of view, let's get concrete.
What can Rafa really achieve in 2024? His goal seems clear: to try to give himself one last chance to win the Roland Garros and, perhaps, the Paris Olympics, which will always be played on the clay of Bois de Boulogne. It won't be easy to establish himself in Paris: if Djokovic maintains this form, it will be tough for everyone in 2024.
And Nole is looking for the glory he lacks, such as winning the Olympic gold medal. Rafa will try, he will have the chances and the weight of history, which will sit alongside him, in Paris. Realistically speaking, I believe that Rafa has the possibility of winning tournaments, if he had fully recovered from the serious injury earlier this year.
If Nadal is physically well, he will have his chances of winning in some clay tournaments. At the Roland Garros, playing best of 5 sets and in two weeks, the prediction is more difficult, but this does not mean that he will have no chance of winning.
As for the start of the season on hard courts, I suppose that Nadal will mainly use it to regain confidence with official matches. Then if something good comes along, so much the better...