'I expect a lot from Rafael Nadal,' says ex-rival's coach

Rafael Nadal will play again in Brisbane in a couple of weeks

by Jovica Ilic
'I expect a lot from Rafael Nadal,' says ex-rival's coach
© Cameron Spencer / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal spent a week at his tennis complex in Kuwait, practicing with the young Frenchman Arthur Fils ahead of the new season. Roger Federer's last coach, Ivan Ljubicic, the French Tennis Federation director of Ambition 2024, exchanged messages with Arthur.

As the young gun reported, Rafa presented a high level of intensity during their practice runs, and Ljubicic expects a lot from a 22-time Major winner in 2024. Nadal missed almost the entire 2023 season, injuring his left hip in the second round of the Australian Open and undergoing surgery in June.

Rafa will hit the court again in Brisbane in the first week of 2024, hoping for a good run ahead of the Australian Open. While still having doubts after the most extended break of his career, the Spaniard is eager to return at his best and chase the titles in the upcoming season, happy to compete again.

Rafa will start from the bottom, entering the new campaign ranked outside the top-600 for the first time in over two decades! Nadal has had many issues with injuries in the previous four years. However, he still managed to win Major titles, standing alone at the top after a great run early in 2022.

Rafa conquered the Australian Open and Roland Garros before reaching the Wimbledon semi-final. The Spaniard struggled with an abdominal injury, withdrawing and never getting that form again. One thing led to another, and Nadal has played only 13 matches since August 2022, losing ground like never before.

Ivan Ljubicic spoke about Rafael Nadal's form ahead of 2024.

Rafa failed to make a fresh start in 2023, losing two encounters at the United Cup and entering the Australian Open with zero confidence. Nadal made a winning start against Jack Draper, beating the Briton in four sets before experiencing a severe hip injury against Mackenzie McDonald that ended his season.

Rafa announced a Grade 2 iliopsoas and underwent arthroscopic surgery in June, missing the rest of the year and jeopardizing his career. After a proper rest, Nadal started practicing again, combining his training sessions with the gym and shaping up his body.

Feeling better and better on the practice court, Rafa scheduled his return for the first week of 2024, entering the ATP 250 event in Brisbane and hoping to regain his form and confidence. "Arthur Fils texted me and explained that Rafa played at a very high level during their practice sessions. I always expect big things from Rafa," Ivan Ljubicic said.

Rafael Nadal