Rafael Nadal’s comeback date appears to be in sight after big update

Rafael Nadal is making his ATP Tour comeback

Rafael Nadal has entered the WTA 250 event in Doha later this month and it appears he is making good progress in his efforts to make that appearance.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion made an impressive return to the court as he displayed a high level of tennis in Brisbane last month after a year on the sidelines with a hip injury.

In what could be his final year as a professional, Nadal was then forced to pull out of the Australian Open and made this announcement to disappointed tennis fans around the world who were eager to see his return to a Grand Slam stage.

“During my last match in Brisbane I had a small problem on a muscle that as you know made me worried,” he wrote in a message posted on his social media platform.

“Once I got to Melbourne I have had the chance to make an MRI and I have a micro tear on a muscle, not in the same part where I had the injury and that’s good news.

“Right now I am not ready to compete at the maximum level of exigence in five sets matches. I’m flying back to Spain to see my doctor, get some treatment and rest.

“I have worked very hard during the year for this comeback and as I always mentioned my goal is to be at my best level in three months.

“Within the sad news for me for not being able to play in front of the amazing Melbourne crowds, this is not very bad news and we all remain positive with the evolution for the season.

“I really wanted to play here in Australia and I have had the chance to play a few matches that made me very happy and positive. Thanks all for the support and see you soon!”

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Many were surprised to see Nadal’s name on the entry list for the tournament in Doha, with reports suggesting he was hopeful rather than expectant of playing in the event.

Yet images have now been posted of Nadal practising ahead of the latest stage of his comeback, fuelling hope that he could be in Doha for an event that gets underway on February 19.

As well as playing in Doha, Nadal is expected to compete at the ATP 1000 Indian Wells and Miami Open tournaments next month, as he steps up his comeback efforts before what is certain to be a key part of his season as he returns to his favourite clay courts.

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There were suggestions that Nadal may opt against playing on hard courts ahead of the start of the European classy court season in April.

Yet that appears to have been dispelled as he has been getting back in gear on hard courts at his Academy in Mallorca.

“I need matches, I need health, I need to keep practising well and of course the past two matches here help, and even the doubles on the first day,” said Nadal last month.

“Of course, victories and hours spent on court help. For me, every day that I have the chance to play is great news, so I’m just happy for that, happy that I came back after a long time and feel competitive. Let’s see how far I can go.”