Welcome back, Rafa!

Henry

Rafael Nadal, you thorn!

The Spanish tennis star celebrated his return to the court with a good victory against Dominic Thiem in the Brisbane challenge tournament.

Nadal, who celebrates his 38th birthday this year, beat the Austrian 7-5 and 6-1. It was his first victory since he squared off with Jack Draper in his opening match of last year’s Australian Open.

“It’s honestly an emotional and important day for me; After all, 2023 was one of the most difficult years of my tennis career. I am grateful to have been able to make my comeback in front of enthusiastic fans and I am satisfied with my game,” said the winner of 22 Grand Slam titles.

A hip injury and surgery kept him on the sidelines last year and he missed his beloved French Open – for the first time in 18 years – among other things.

But he has now moved well on the Brisbane track and he has impressed with his stroke play.

“The first set against Dominic was an even story. We both hit well, but I was able to clinch an important pot late in the set.”

According to Nadal, he is also happy to see Thiem back on the court – injuries often keep the Austrian on the crutches list.

It was the Spaniard’s 1,069th victory in an ATP match; only Jimmy Connors (1,274), Roger Federer (1,251) and Novak Djokovic (1,088) have won more matches than him.

He will play Jason Kubler in the next round on Thursday.