Rafael Nadal says he’s feeling ‘better’ but isn’t ‘setting deadlines’ for his return to tennis

Rafael Nadal is keeping fans on the edge of their seats as he refuses to set any “deadlines” for his highly awaited comeback to tennis. The Spaniard is currently in the process of recovering from a hip injury that has kept him off the court since the Australian Open in January.

The legendary 22-time grand slam champion underwent surgery in June, ruling him out for the rest of the 2023 season. Although Australian Open’s tournament director Craig Tiley previously announced that Nadal would make his comeback at the 2024 edition, the player’s representative Benito Pérez-Barbadillo clarified to CNN that no dates have been confirmed yet.

In a recent interview with CNNE, Nadal expressed uncertainty about his competitive return. When asked about his desired tournaments, Nadal responded, “I would like to compete in the tournaments that have been important for me and also those that hold significance for the world.” However, he emphasized that his return depends on his physical and tennis abilities, which are not yet certain.

“We’ll have to wait and see. I don’t want to put additional pressure on myself,” Nadal stated.

Nadal recently shared a video of himself back on the court, preparing for the 2024 season. The extended absence from the sport has caused him to plummet in the rankings, currently holding the 240th position. In March of this year, after an impressive 912 weeks in the top 10, Nadal dropped out of the elite group for the first time in over 17 years.

Despite the challenges, Nadal conveyed that his recovery is progressing well, admitting the process hasn’t been easy. “Physically, I feel better than before, and I hope to continue improving in the coming weeks,” he said. The operation was invasive and significant, making the recovery particularly difficult. Nadal acknowledged that he is taking each day as it comes and focusing on moving forward.

Nadal is recovering from major hip surgery earlier this year. – MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/AFP via Getty Images

If Nadal returns to the Australian Open next year, it could signal the beginning of his final year in the sport. In a press conference in May, he acknowledged the likelihood of 2024 being his last year on the professional tour. However, Nadal has not set a specific retirement date and is currently focused on his return to the court.

“Sporting-wise, I would like to be in a different situation, but for now, this is reality,” Nadal commented, revealing that he is personally happy at the moment. “I’m happier now in terms of my performance compared to a month-and-a-half ago. So I trust that in two months, my performance will be even better. I’m taking it step by step and working hard every day to achieve that.”

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