Craig Tiley backs Rafael Nadal to play the Australian Open



by JOVICA ILIC

Craig Tiley backs Rafael Nadal to play the Australian Open
© Daniel Pockett / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

The Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley is confident about Rafael Nadal's participation at next year's first Major in Melbourne. Tiley has been following Nadal's progress on the practice court, with the Spaniard trying to overcome a severe hip injury experienced in Melbourne this year.

The Aussie would love to see a 22-time Major champion in action again, calling him a massive drawcard for the event. The veteran is eager to make one more push after many setbacks in the previous two decades, still wishing to play his best tennis at 37.

World no. 662 has not played since January, injuring his hip and skipping the entire season, suffering a massive blow. After surgery and the summer without tennis, Rafa returned to the gym and practice court a couple of months ago, starting from the beginning and shaping up his form, targeting early 2024 for his return.

Nadal had many issues with injuries in 2021, returning to the top a year later. Rafa conquered the Australian Open and Roland Garros in 2022, becoming the first player with 22 Major titles. Instead of battling for the ATP throne, the Spaniard experienced another injury at Wimbledon, hurting his abdominal muscle and withdrawing ahead of the semi-final duel against Nick Kyrgios.

It remains Nadal's last great run, playing only 13 matches since last August.

Rafael Nadal will try to extend his career at the beginning of 2024.

From the ATP Race leader, Rafa lost the ground due to physical issues. The Spaniard entered the US Open despite not feeling at his best, having an excellent chance to conquer the ATP throne at 36.

Instead, he lost to Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round, still feeling the abdominal pain and reducing his schedule. The Spaniard wrapped up the previous season with a victory at the ATP Finals, beating Casper Ruud and embracing the South American swing with the Norwegian.

Instead of a fresh start this season, Nadal lost both matches at the United Cup despite taking the opening set. The defending Australian Open champion gave his everything to play competitive tennis in Melbourne, beating Jack Draper in the first round and facing Mackenzie McDonald in the next duel.

Rafa struggled in the opener before experiencing a severe left hip injury in the second set. He refused to retire, playing until the end and hitting the exit door after losing serve late in the third set. The Spaniard revealed a Grade 2 iliopsoas, underwent surgery a few months later and missed the rest of the season.

Rafa is eager to return at next year's Australian Open, hoping to embrace at least one more year on the Tour. "Rafa has been training. I follow him closely, probably daily, because he is a massive drawcard for us. Rafa wants to play in Australia and is planning to travel and compete.

I'm certain Rafa will be here because he will not miss the opportunity to repeat what he did a couple of years ago," Craig Tiley said.

Craig Tiley Rafael Nadal Australian Open