Rafael Nadal makes honest confession as he discusses comeback expectations

Rafael Nadal press conference

Rafael Nadal has revealed he intends “not to expect anything” of himself as he declared he is in a “different moment” and “uncharted territory” ahead of his 2024 comeback.

The legendary Spaniard insisted he must accept “things are going to be very difficult at the beginning” and admitted there is “a very big possibility things could go wrong” early on.

Nadal 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 to address the injury in June, having initially expected to be out for around six to eight weeks.

The 37-year-old was forced to postpone his intended 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 announced he would be making his return to the tour at the Brisbane International at the start of January ahead of the 2024 Australian Open.

Nadal has dealt with frequent injury setbacks throughout his illustrious career, but this will be his longest absence as he will have gone almost a full year since playing by the time he competes in Brisbane.

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In a video shared on his social media accounts, Nadal shared some thoughts ahead of his comeback and stressed his expectations are lower than ever before.

“It’s been a long time, so I hope, first of all, to feel again those nerves, that expectancy, those fears, those doubts,” the Mallorcan said.

“I expect from myself not to expect anything. This is the truth. To have the ability not to demand of myself what I have demanded of myself throughout my career. I believe I’m in a different moment, in a different situation, in uncharted territory.

“I have internalised what I’ve had throughout my life, which is to demand the maximum of myself. And right now what I really hope is to be able to not do that, to not demand the maximum from myself, to accept that things are going to be very difficult at the beginning and to give myself the necessary time and to forgive myself if things go wrong at the beginning, which is a very big possibility.

“But knowing that there may be a not-too-distant future where things can change, if I keep the dream and the spirit of work and my body responds, no doubt.”

Nadal is a two-time Australian Open champion, having triumphed at the Melbourne Grand Slam in 2009 and 2022.

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