‘Someone like Rafael Nadal doesn’t come back to do a farewell tour – the tournaments will not be catwalks’

Rafael Nadal on court

Former ATP player Paolo Bertolucci has declared that Rafael Nadal is not the type of character who would make a comeback to do a farewell tour ahead of the great Spaniard’s return.

The Italian, a former world No 12, believes Nadal “will still have a great desire to compete and overcome his opponents” and warned the events he plays “will not be catwalks to collect the last applause and say goodbye.”

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

The 22-time Grand Slam champion was forced to postpone his planned comeback during this year’s clay-court season and missed the French Open for the first time since 2004. When announcing his withdrawal from Roland Garros, Nadal divulged that 2024 would likely be his final season on the tour.

The former world No 1 won his most recent title at the 2022 French Open, where he claimed a record-extending 14th crown.

Nadal recently revealed that he would be making his long-awaited return to action at the Brisbane International tournament in January in preparation for the 2024 Australian Open.

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Bertolucci suggested he does not think Nadal would be making a comeback unless the Mallorcan felt he could perform at a high level and be a contender.

“I’m sure, however, that he will still have a great desire to compete and overcome his opponents – someone like him doesn’t come back to do the farewell tour,” the 72-year-old said in a recent interview.

“The tournaments will not be catwalks to collect the last applause and say goodbye to his many fans. There is a lot of curiosity in seeing him back on the court. Accustomed as he was to breaking so many records, perhaps he wants to push the boundaries of his legend further.

“He chose Australia to start again, but I believe that everything is part of the design of a very targeted program through specific tests that have validated this decision and which should bring him in good condition for the clay tournaments from May to June.”

Bertolucci, who retired in 1983, won six singles titles and 12 doubles tournaments, and was also part of Italy’s 1976 Davis Cup-winning team.

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