Coach Jose Higueras thinks Rafael Nadal is taking "a realistic and cautious" approach to his comeback. Last week, Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley claimed that Nadal confirmed his participation at the Australian Open.
The news quickly went viral but the excitement cooled off after Nadal's PR denied that the Spaniard's Australian Open was set in the stone. Nadal also released a short statement on his X account as he wrote: "I appreciate the vote of confidence from the Australian Open… I am practising every day and working hard to come back asap." Higueras, who had a short stint with Roger Federer in 2008, believes Nadal doesn't want to make any premature commitments and put himself in a potentially uncomfortable spot.
Higueras: I think Nadal is fully realistic and cautious
"Obviously, it will be a great situation if we see Rafa coming back at the Australian (Open) and then being able to play a good amount of the schedule through the year.
At the same time, I think Rafa is fully realistic and cautious. I understand that he has only been hitting balls for a couple of weeks and not full workouts. Yes, progressively, he is getting his body into the workout mode. Practicing and playing matches are two different things.
I think, at Rafa's age everything is possible. It is possible that he (Nadal) comes back and is able to play a good amount through the schedule. It is possible that he comes back and he has another setback. So, I am cautiously optimistic," Higueras said on the Courtside: The US Open podcast.
In June, Nadal underwent surgery to repair his psoas muscle injury. Nadal has since returned to gym work and also practicing. Nadal won't play any tournaments in the remainder of the 2023 season but he is working and hoping to be ready for the start of the 2024 season.
It remains to be seen if Nadal will be ready to start his 2024 season in time and make his Grand Slam return at the Australian Open.