Rafael Nadal is back on the practice court ahead of his return to the ATP Tour and he will be hoping this comeback lasts a little longer than his first attempt last month.
The Spanish legend made his return after almost a year away at the Brisbane International last month, with a minor injury troubling him in his defeat against Australia’s Jordan Thompson.
The 37-year-old Spaniard, who had surgery on the psoas tendon in his left hip in June, released a statement soon after that match confirming he was out of the Australian Open.
“During my last match in Brisbane I had a small problem on a muscle that as you know made me worried,” Nadal posted on his social media channels.
“Once I got to Melbourne I have had the chance to make an MRI and I have a micro tear on a muscle, not in the same part where I had the injury and that’s good news.
“Right now I am not ready to compete at the maximum level of exigence in five sets matches. I’m flying back to Spain to see my doctor, get some treatment and rest.”
He added: “I have worked very hard during the year for this comeback and as I always mentioned my goal is to be at my best level in three months.
“Within the sad news for me for not being able to play in front of the amazing Melbourne crowds, this is not very bad news and we all remain positive with the evolution for the season.
“I really wanted to play here in Australia and I have had the chance to play a few matches that made me very happy and positive. Thanks all for the support and see you soon!”
Eyebrows were raised when Nadal’s name appeared on the entry list for the Qatar Open that gets underway next week, as there was a feeling that the tournament may come a little too soon for the 22-time Grand Slam-winning great.
Yet he appears to be on track to play in Doha after posting images of him practising in recent days.
Nadal has received a wild card into the tournament, but he is unseeded and that could open up the possibility of a blockbuster clash in the first round.
World No 3 and Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev is the top seed for this tournament, with his Russian compatriot Andrey Rublev also on the list to compete.
A clash with fellow Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina is also a possible early match-up for Nadal and he could face old foe Andy Murray in the opening round in Doha.
Yet it is the presence of Nadal that is setting pules raced ahead of the draw this weekend, with the tournament’s website highlighting the Spaniard as their biggest name player.
Karim Alami, Qatar ExxonMobil Open Tournament Director, said, “I am delighted to inform you that Rafael Nadal has decided to make a comeback to the courts at our tournament, the Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2024. As the Tournament Director, it brings me great joy to announce this exciting news.”
“We take great pride in welcoming Nadal back to Doha, a tournament that he has graced with his presence and emerged victorious in the past. Moreover, his immense popularity in this city ensures a devoted fan base that eagerly awaits the opportunity to witness his extraordinary skills once more.”