Rafael Nadal opens up: 'I expect nothing from myself'

Rafael Nadal will return to action after being sidelined for a year

by Jovica Ilic
Rafael Nadal opens up: 'I expect nothing from myself'
© Cameron Spencer / Staff - Getty Images Sport

A 22-time Major winner Rafael Nadal will return to action in the first week of 2024, entering the ATP 250 event in Brisbane. Rafa injured his left hip at this year's Australian Open, falling to Mackenzie McDonald in the second round and missing the rest of the year.

Nadal left the injury behind, working hard in the previous few months and arranging his long-awaited comeback. The Spaniard expects nothing from himself, aware of his position and everything he will have to endure in the opening couple of months.

Ranked outside the top-600, Nadal could face the top-10 rivals from the opening rounds in Brisbane and Melbourne. Also, Rafa has not played competitive matches for almost a year, and no practice sessions could substitute that.

Despite that, a 22-time Major champion is ready to make another push, eager to compete at the highest level and end his career on his terms. Bothered with injuries, Rafa claimed two Major titles in the first half of 2022 for the first time, standing alone at 22 Major crowns.

However, he suffered an abdominal injury at Wimbledon, reaching the semi-final but withdrawing ahead of the Nick Kyrgios clash. Nadal has played only 13 matches since August 2022, scoring five victories. The Spaniard experienced a couple of blows, dropping out from the top-600 after over two decades!

Rafa could not recover in the closing stages of 2022, traveling to Australia with no form or confidence but giving it a go. The Spaniard lost both United Cup matches, heading to the Australian Open as the defending champion with slim chances.

Rafa made a winning start in Melbourne against Jack Draper before experiencing a severe hip injury against Mackenzie McDonald.

Rafael Nadal has no high expectations ahead of 2024.

Nadal revealed a Grade 2 iliopsoas and underwent arthroscopic surgery in June, missing the rest of the season and jeopardizing his career.

Rafa enjoyed his first casual summer without tennis in decades, traveling with his family and friends before starting his comeback preparations. Eager to extend his tennis journey, Nadal raised his level in the gym and on the court, hoping to prepare for the start of 2024.

After several successful months of training, the Spaniard scheduled his long-awaited return to Brisbane, entering the ATP 250 event ahead of the Australian Open. Rafa will need time to regain his confidence, but everything should be fine by the spring if his body endures the efforts.

"It's been a long time, and I hope to feel those nerves, illusions, fears and doubts again. I expect nothing from myself, and it's the truth. My career is in a different place than before, and I'm in a position to only ask a little from myself.

After missing a year and undergoing a hip injury, I have been afraid to announce things. It's not the hip that worries me the most but everything else. I'm ready to compete again, hoping everything will go well and allow me to enjoy on the court," Rafael Nadal said.

Rafael Nadal