Rafael Nadal expressed confidence on Wednesday that he will make a "competitive" return to professional tennis next month, marking the end of nearly a year-long hiatus due to injury.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion underwent two surgeries in 2023 to address a persistent hip injury, prompting speculation about his future in the sport. With retirement expected next year, Nadal confirmed his comeback at the Brisbane International, an Australian Open warm-up event scheduled from January 1–7.
In a social media video, Nadal conveyed his excitement about returning to the court, emphasising that while he doesn't know the exact level of play to expect, he is focused on enjoying the game. The 37-year-old acknowledged the challenges of the past year, including setbacks in his attempts to return for the clay-court season and Roland Garros.
Reflecting on his journey, Nadal mentioned moments of doubt and the seemingly impossible nature of his return. Despite slipping to 664th in the world rankings during his absence, he maintained a positive outlook, crediting perseverance, spirit, and hope.
As a two-time Australian Open champion (in 2009 and 2022), Nadal aims to regain his competitive edge in a tournament he is familiar with. He acknowledged the difficulties ahead but expressed readiness to compete without aspiring to anything beyond being competitive.
Nadal's return to the court follows a challenging year, but with renewed optimism, he looks forward to the opportunity to compete once again.