Rafael Nadal would very much like to swing his tennis racket again in a competitive match. Still, he warned his supporters not to expect miracle performances from the outset.
A lot of hard work awaits the 37-year-old Spaniard.
“I want to play again, but I know I’m not going to just walk on the court and win in Paris or Melbourne. I am well aware of the obstacles that stand in my way – age is a given, but you can try to overcome physical problems,” Nadal told Movistar+.
The winner of 22 Grand Slam titles was on the operating table in June to treat a hip injury, which kept him sidelined for months.
He indicated at the time that the rehabilitation process could take up to five months and that he would probably not be seen on the international stage again in 2023.
“An operation was the only way out and I wouldn’t have gotten better otherwise. I made the decision and things turned out well. However, I am not sure what will happen in 2024. I will be able to play, but I will by no means be in a position to win at Roland-Garros.”
Nadal announced in May that he would miss the French Open for the first time in 18 years; a tournament that he has already won 14 times in his illustrious career.
“It will be the first time in years that I am not in Paris; at a tournament that means an incredible amount to me. Still, Roland-Garros will always be Roland-Garros. It doesn’t matter if I’m there or not.”
The Spanish matador won the French Open in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and in 2022.
At the time, Martina Navratilova praised the Spaniard for his commitment.
“One day people will write books about your career to try to encourage others to be like you. I have infinite respect for you and I love watching you play. In fact, I wish that you would never retire because then you might win 30 titles at Roland-Garros,” the tennis legend said of Nadal.
But since then he has had to watch helplessly as Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic walk away with the Grand Slam laurels.
There is no stopping the 36-year-old Djokovic and he won his 24th Grand Slam title in New York a few weeks ago.
“Novak is more successful than me because his fitness allows him to keep playing. At the same time, it would also have been a great frustration for him if the record had not been behind his name. This may be one of the reasons why he reaches so many tennis heights.”