Toni Nadal gives Rafael Nadal comeback update and makes big Australian Open claim

Rafael Nadal and Matteo Berrettini.

Toni Nadal has provided an update on Rafael Nadal’s training for his proposed comeback and feels his nephew is taking the right approach by being cautious. 

The esteemed coach also declared that the tennis legend “should be in good condition to compete” at the 2024 Australian Open in January.

The Mallorcan coached his nephew Rafael Nadal from his childhood until 2017, helping him win 16 of his 22 Grand Slam titles. He is the director of the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca and has also been working with world No 19 Felix Auger-Aliassime since 2021.

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 former world No 1 underwent surgery on 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 the clay-court season and missed the French Open for the first time since 2004. The Spaniard is currently training ahead of a proposed return to action in 2024, which he has revealed will likely be his final season on the tour.

Speaking to the Onda Cero Spanish radio station, Toni Nadal explained he expects the 37-year-old to be ready to play in Melbourne, but recognised the challenges his nephew will face.

“My nephew intends to be cautious, which is the right approach. But I believe that for the Australian Open, my nephew should be in good condition to compete, all going well, because I have seen him train,” said the 62-year-old.

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“Every day he is improving a bit. It’s true that it has been a very long-term injury, but well, that’s how it is. In high-level sports, in the end, it’s almost obligatory to play with pain, unfortunately, because you push your body to the limit, and pushing it to the limit is what leads to all these problems.

“He is aware that the situation is complicated. Let’s say he manages to get to Australia, it won’t be easy to compete again with an added problem. He won’t be a top seed, and from the very beginning he could face a high-level player.

“When Rafa plays a Grand Slam and faces a manageable opponent in the beginning, he gains momentum and becomes dangerous starting from the quarter-finals.”

Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley claimed last month that Nadal had told him he would compete at next year’s edition of the event.

“We can reveal exclusively here that Rafa will be back. He’s been off for most of the year, and in talking to him over the last few days he confirmed he will be back, which we’re really excited about. That’s awesome,” said Tiley.

Nadal, though, is yet to confirm when he will make his comeback. He won his most recent Major title at the 2022 French Open.

READ MORE: ‘Rafael Nadal winning 2022 Australian Open was one of greatest achievements in sports history’