By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday November 16, 2023
Rafael Nadal hasn’t played a competitive match since the 2023 Australian Open, and in the interim he has undergone a surgery to his iliopsoas (hip flexor joint) and expressed doubt about the conclusion of his career.
Now the 22-time Grand Slam champion is feeling more sanguine about his hopes of playing again, even if he isn’t so sure about what level of tennis he can achieve.
“I’m well, training, and happy,” Nadal said on Wednesday afternoon in Barcelona according to the ATP. “I’m at a good stage of my life. Until now I didn’t know if I would play tennis again someday, and now I genuinely believe I will. I’m still not ready to say when, but I’m able to train increasingly longer, and the progress is good.
Rafael Nadal with an 𝓸𝓹𝓽𝓲𝓶𝓲𝓼𝓽𝓲𝓬 update on his return to competition 🙌 pic.twitter.com/4sChTWl5mB
— Eurosport (@eurosport) November 15, 2023
Nadal, owner of a 1068-220 record with 92 titles, is now 37 and will turn 38 in May of 2024. He knows pain will always be part of the plan, but he’s experiencing a lot of positive growth in his recovery and plans to have specific details about when and where he will return in the coming weeks.
“We know that the pain will never disappear, but I’ve taken a step forward,” said the Spaniard. “That’s a lot for me. Talking about tennis is another matter altogether, as is the level I’ll be able to play at. But the steps toward trying to play again have been big and positive, which is what we have been fighting for for several months. I’m confident I’ll be able to say something more specific in the coming weeks.”
Nadal frames his impending comeback as a personal success, no matter what level he is able to achieve on the ATP Tour.
“I haven’t played for a year,” the Spaniard stressed. “Personal success is often more rewarding than general success. The hope is that I’ll play again. You never know what will happen. My gut says it will be very difficult to get back to a good level of tennis.
“The years pass by. My hope is that I will play again, and that is hugely satisfying to me on a personal level. I won’t win more Grand Slams than Djokovic, but I will have the chance to enjoy myself again.”