Rafael Nadal makes a dream come true for one of the rising stars of the game

Rafael Nadal in action

Rafael Nadal has confirmed he is on the comeback trail and that has turned out to be good news for one of the players he has chosen to train with ahead of his return to action.

Nadal will make his comeback following a year out at the Brisbane International later this month, ending almost a year away from the court after he suffered a hip injury during his second-round defeat by Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open in January.

Having initially hoped the lay-off may only be a few weeks, Nadal admitted in May that he was staring at the end of his career and that he hoped to be able to play a final year on tour in 2024.

He had surgery in June and has been gradually building up to a return that he has now announced will be at the Brisbane International, a key warm-up event for the Australian Open, beginning on December 31.

In a video on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, Nadal said: “After a year away from competition, it’s time to come back. It will be in Brisbane the first week of January. I’ll see you there.”

Now it has been confirmed that Nadal’s plans to get himself in match shape ahead of the Australian Open will include hitting sessions with one of the rising stars of the game.

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Artur Fils has caught the eye with some impressive performances in 2023, as the French youngster looks to make the leap from the junior ranks to the senior stage.

The teenager has broken into the top 40 of the ATP rankings after a run of form that included his first ATP title in Lyon in May.

He also reached the final at an indoor event in Antwerp in October and is tipped to be seeded by the time the French Open rolls around next May.

Now Fils, who has been a shining star at the ATP Finals in Jeddah, has received an invite that he admits will allow him to fulfil one of his biggest dreams, as he will be training with Nadal in Kuwait as the 22-time Grand Slam champion prepares for his comeback to the court.

“He very kindly invited me,” said Fils of the Nadal invite. “I’m going to give it my all. I’m going to try not to get too carried away on his forehands (smiles). I’m going to get the most out of it.”

Fils went on to suggest he would relish the chance to take on the 14-time French Open champion on his beloved clay courts at Roland Garros next summer, as he hinted he could become one of the few players to beat Nadal at the Grand Slam event he has dominated.

“Maybe not in the first round, but if I can play him in the final at Roland Garros, that suits me. If, at the age of 19, I can stop him in Roland, that would be nice,” he stated.

Fils also confirmed his initial idol growing up was Nadal’s great rival Roger Federer, but he grew to admire the work ethic and brilliance of Nadal as he matured.

“My idol was Roger, but the more we grow up, the more we appreciate watching Rafa play, his fighting spirit, his game,” he added.

Nadal is currently ranked down at 663 having seen his 18-year stay in the top 10 end in March.