Since he set his sights on the 2024 season as a possible return horizon, Rafael Nadal has charted the path out of caution. Facing one of the largest sports losses of his career, with a full year out of competition due to an injury to the iliopsoas in his left leg, the Spaniard is counting down the days to return to a professional tournament at the ATP 250 in Brisbane which starts next December 29.
In the middle of the preparation block that began in the month of October, a workload that will continue over the next few days in Kuwait alongside the French Next Gen ATP Arthur Fils, the Spaniard wanted to share some reflections prior to his return to the ATP Tour circuit, approaching to the fans in a sincere way.
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“At many times I thought it didn’t make sense,” acknowledged the Spaniard, whose last match took place in the second round of the Australian Open last January. “In the end, there are many years, many things and many hours of work for which you do not see the result. I still think about what I said at the last press conference, I still think that I didn’t deserve to end my sports career in a press room. I would like it to end differently, and I have fought and maintained the hope at all times for that to happen. With doubts, with bad moments, very bad ones and with better moments.”
The 22-time major champion, who decided to close his 2023 season before the start of Roland Garros, allowing himself a professional break to try to heal his body, has lived a completely different year than his legend is used to. Far from the big stages, away from competitive tension and surrounded by his close circle to make the most correct decision at all times.
“I think I’ve had the right people around me as I always have throughout my career,” he explained. “Family, team, friends, I think they have all helped me decisively to be where I am today, which is with the option of competing again. The desire of people who want to see me play again somehow also has an impact on my daily life.”
My last reflection after the announcement… 📣
👉🏻 Of course I thought it didn’t make sense (to compete again)… it’s been many years…
👉🏻 I have fought and I have maintained the illusion at all times
👉🏻 I have had the right people around me as I have always had throughout my career…… pic.twitter.com/xLnHMdZTqD
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) December 7, 2023
In this long-awaited return to the competition, the Mallorcan uses caution to place himself at the starting point. Not one centimeter beyond the first step, which is nothing more and nothing less an entry into the professional circuit with a body to prove.
“It is a reality, there is a good chance that it will be my last year, without a doubt,” Nadal stressed. “There’s a chance it’ll only be half a year, there’s a chance it’ll be a full year, there’s a chance we won’t be able to get to all of that. These are things that right now I do not have the capacity to answer you. I am only in a position to say that I am competing again, that I still have what is normal in my head or that there is a good chance that it will be my last year. “I’m going to enjoy every tournament as if it were that way.”
In a season with special incentives, such as the Paris 2024 Olympic Games to be played on the clay of Roland Garros, the Spaniard simply sends a message of waiting, where time will set the limits of each decision made. Including the outcome of a race for history in modern sports.
“I don’t want to announce it as such because, in the end, you don’t know what can happen. One always has to give oneself the opportunity and not say something that later makes one a slave to what he has said. I think it will be like that, I can’t be 100% sure. In the end, I have worked hard to compete again. If suddenly my physique allows me to move forward and I enjoy what I do, why am I going to set a deadline for myself?