Rafael Nadal has shared a significant update about his eventual comeback after spending the year on the sidelines. The Spaniard has confirmed that he will be able to return from injury and is now hoping to announce something even more concrete in the coming weeks. But Nadal has already conceded to Novak Djokovic in the Grand Slam race, vowing that he won’t be able to overtake his rival’s tally of 24 trophies.
Nadal has been out of action since injuring his left psoas during his second-round defeat at the Australian Open. He then failed to mount a comeback for the clay swing and called a press conference in May, announcing that he would be shutting down his season and that 2024 would likely be his final year on tour.
The 37-year-old also underwent arthroscopic hip surgery in June and has been back on the practice court over the last few weeks. Nadal was still uncertain about his comeback just two months ago but he has now given arguably his biggest update yet, confirming that he believes he will be able to return to professional tennis.
“I sincerely believe that I will return to play,” Nadal said at the Clinica del Tenis, per Marca. “I can’t say at what level I’ll be able to return, but I’ve never lost the desire to play and now it seems that things are going in the right direction.”
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The former world No 1 still can’t give a tournament or date for his comeback but admitted he is taking positive steps and will likely announce something soon. He continued: “I’m not ready to say whether it will be in one place or another, but I’m happy with how things are going. A few weeks ago, I wasn’t in a position to say if I could come back, but the steps forward have been positive. I hope to be able to say something more concrete in the next few weeks…
“I’m training and I’m happy. It’s a good time in my life. This is a step forward without any doubt, and it’s a lot for me. I haven’t played for a year and for me personal success, which is often more powerful than overall success, is to continue to imagine returning to play.”
However, Nadal is also unsure as to what his level will be when he does return. The Spaniard previously held the record for most men’s singles Grand Slam titles at 22 but Djokovic matched and then surpassed his long-time rival this year, now having 24 trophies to his name.
And the 37-year-old knows that he won’t be able to chase the Serb down in the Grand Slam race, instead putting his focus on enjoying himself on the court. Nadal added: “I know it will be difficult to return to a very high level of tennis, but if I didn’t have the desire to be competitive again I wouldn’t have done the work I’ve done these months. I’m not going to win more Grand Slams than Novak Djokovic, but I’m going to have the opportunity to enjoy myself again.”