Rafael Nadal looks set to play Australian Open as travel plans revealed in big comeback update

Rafael Nadal on court at the 2022 Australian Open

Rafael Nadal intends to compete at the 2024 Australian Open and has made plans to travel to Australia next month, according to a report by a journalist.

The 37-year-old has not played since suffering a hip injury in his second round loss to Mackenzie McDonald at the 2023 Australian Open in January. The 22-time Grand Slam champion underwent surgery on the issue in June, having initially expected to be out for only six to eight weeks.

The Mallorcan was forced to postpone his planned comeback during the clay-court season and missed the French Open for the first time since 2004. He revealed in a press conference announcing his withdrawal from Roland Garros that 2024 would likely be his final season on the tour.

The former world No 1 won his most recent Major title at the 2022 French Open, where he defeated Casper Ruud in straight sets to claim a record-extending 14th Roland Garros crown.

Earlier this month, Nadal confirmed he had made significant progress in his training and that he would be returning to the sport, with his comeback tournament yet to be announced.

“Until now, I didn’t know if I would ever play tennis again and now I think so. What has changed from a few weeks ago to now is that now I know that I am going to play tennis again,” said the Spaniard.

“I didn’t know it before, but now, honestly, I know it because the evolution is positive. Big steps have been taken lately. I’m not yet ready to say where. When I know, I will be the first to say it. It’s a good period of my life. It’s a step forward, without a doubt, and it means a lot.”

READ MORE: ‘I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rafael Nadal at the highest level again’, says former world No 1

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In a report for Cadena SER, journalist Pedro Fullana divulged that Nadal plans to travel to Kuwait in the first half of December, where he will increase the intensity of his training at the Rafa Nadal Academy Kuwait.

It is claimed that Nadal would then return to Spain for Christmas, before making the trip to Australia in late December, with the Spaniard expected to play lead-in tournaments ahead of an appearance at the Melbourne Grand Slam.

Speaking in Melbourne last week, Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley reiterated his belief that Nadal would play at the year’s first Major in January.

“Rafa has been training, I follow him closely, probably every day, because he’s a massive drawcard for us. He wants to play, he’s obviously planning on playing. It all depends on how he pulls up,” he said.

“Hopefully in the next week or the next two weeks, we get some specific confirmation of that. I’m certain Rafa will be here because he’s not going to want to miss the opportunity to repeat what he did a couple of years ago.”

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