Rafael Nadal will play at the Australian Open in January, tournament director Craig Tiley said on Wednesday, as the 37-year-old former world number one returns to the sport after undergoing hip surgery earlier this year.
The Spaniard, who has 22 Grand Slams to his name, wrapped up his 2023 season after a second-round defeat at the Australian Open and his recovery process was estimated at five months after his operation in June.
“We can reveal exclusively here that Rafa will be back,” Tiley said on The Today Show.
“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.
Tiley also said Australian Nick Kyrgios could return at the Melbourne Park Grand Slam after he underwent knee surgery in January and suffered wrist and foot issues in an injury-plagued 2023.
“We know Nick’s been in training, wanting to return as well. So we expect to see him back,” Tiley added.
Nadal has said he expects to retire following the 2024 season, with a series of injuries limiting his appearances on Tour.
The Spaniard has slipped to number 240 in the rankings but is eligible to receive a protected ranking having been injured and not competing in any tennis event for at least six months.
In Nadal’s absence, Novak Djokovic has gone on to win a record 24 Grand Slams.
Nadal has won the Australian Open twice, with his last victory coming in 2022 when he beat Russia’s Daniil Medvedev and became the first man in the Open era to come back from two sets down in the final to win.
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