Rafael Nadal announces official return to professional tennis next year

Rafael Nadal will return to playing next year (tennis365.com)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

This is not a drill anymore. Rafael Nadal has finally spoken.

After months of silence when Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley announced his return in next year’s Grand Slam tournament edition, Nadal himself confirmed that he would be making a highly-anticipated comeback during a press conference in Barcelona.

Nadal gave honest updates regarding his health condition in an event at the Clinica del Tenis and publicly announced that he would be playing in the tournament calendar of 2024.

“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,” Nadal said.

The Spanish legend has yet to make a comeback on the Grand Slam stage since injuring his hip flexor during the last edition of the Australian Open.

Nadal initially eyed returning to the Dubai Tennis Championships but due to his preferences, the 36-year-old superstar chose to wait a bit and revealed that he will be waiting for a clay court major tennis competition.

It was a roller coaster year for the tennis star after halting his 18-year top 10 men’s tennis ranking streak last March, 2023.

Nadal, who began his streak of top 10 men’s ranking qualification in 2005, dropped to world no. 13 with only 2,715 points.

This is the lowest rank the 22-time Grand Slam champion received in 18 straight years and still holds the record of being a top 10 player for 912 consecutive weeks.

If Nadal wins more Grand Slams and major ATP tourneys, he will have the chance to re-enter the top 10 rankings while also boosting his chances of overtaking Novak Djokovic who already copped 24 Grand Slam trophies.

“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,” added Nadal.