Rafael Nadal's Brisbane Resurgence: The Raonic Challenge and 2024 Campaign

Rafael Nadal will compete in Brisbane for the first time in seven years

by Jovica Ilic
Rafael Nadal's Brisbane Resurgence: The Raonic Challenge and 2024 Campaign
© Chris Hyde / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal will return to action in Brisbane, entering the ATP 250 event at the beginning of 2024. Nadal has not played since January, injuring his left hip at the Australian Open and missing the rest of the season. The Spaniard is ready for another push in 2024, eager to extend his career and chase more ATP titles.

Rafa picked Brisbane as his first stop, returning to the Queensland Tennis Centre for the first time since 2017. Brisbane gathered a strong field that year, with the defending champion Milos Raonic leading the action. Nadal made a convincing start, beating Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round and destroying Mischa Zverev 6-1, 6-1 in 55 minutes.

By the will of the draw, Rafa met Milos in the quarter-final, with two top-10 players battling for a place in the ATP 250 semi-final. Raonic overpowered Nadal and scored a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 triumph in two hours and 20 minutes. The Canadian blasted 23 aces and defended six out of seven break points, playing well after the opener and keeping the pressure on world no.

9. Nadal had a chance to emerge at the top. However, he failed to keep his momentum, as many times in the previous two years. Rafa led 6-4, 2-2 and created two break chances in the fifth game that could have sent him closer to the finish line.

Raonic denied them and stayed on the positive side, raising his level and overpowering a great rival for a place in the last four. Milos could not find his A-game early on, rushing to the net and missing volleys. He changed that in the rest of the duel, controlling his aggression and doing enough on the return.

Rafa denied a break point at the start of the encounter and leveled the score at 2-2 with a forehand down the line winner. The Spaniard created a break chance in game five and seized it after the Canadian's loose forehand, moving 3-2 in front.

Rafa cemented the break with a forehand crosscourt winner in game six and moved 5-3 in front with a booming serve two games later. Milos squandered a 40-15 lead in the ninth game and faced a set point.

Rafael Nadal lost to Milos Raonic in the 2017 Brisbane quarter-final.

He saved it with an unreturned serve and denied another before holding for 4-5.

Rafa served for the set in game ten and earned set points with a volley winner. Raonic erased them before Nadal seized the third for 6-4 after 50 minutes. Rafa held at love at 0-1 in the second set and locked the result at 2-2 with an ace down the T line.

Nadal earned two break points in game five, and Raonic saved them to prolong his chances. Milos pushed strong on the return in the eighth game and broke at 15 to forge the advantage. The Canadian served for the set at 5-3 and held at love with a forehand crosscourt winner, forcing a decider and gaining a boost after taking 12 of the final 14 points.

Riding the wave of confidence, Milos fired a forehand down the line winner in the final set's first game, breaking Rafa for the second straight time and building a massive advantage. The Canadian moved 2-0 in front with two unreturned serves at 30-30 before the Spaniard created a break chance in game four with a forehand lob winner.

Milos erased it with a strong forehand attack and held for 3-1. Rafa reduced the deficit to 4-3 with a fine hold in game seven, hoping for more return chances. Instead, Raonic held at love with an ace, forging a 5-3 gap and forcing Nadal to serve to stay in the match.

Rafa painted a backhand down the line winner, extending the battle and hoping for one more push in game ten. Instead, Milos held at love with an unreturned serve, earning a notable victory and moving into the semi-final.

Rafael Nadal