Nadal: “I think I’m ready…I expect from myself not to expect anything”

The Spaniard says he needs to be patient but knows that if all goes well, he can be strong again

Rafael Nadal © Imago / Panoramic

For most of his career, if not all of it, Rafael Nadal has pushed himself to the limit in pursuit of success. And it’s worked, with 22 Grand Slams and 92 titles to his name overall.

It’s also come at some expense, of course, with serious injuries taking him away from the sport on several occasions. Each time, the Spaniard has found the resolve to come back and his inner drive, talent, work ethic and mental strength have done the rest.

But after a year away because of a hip psoas injury that required surgery, as the 37-year-old finally allows himself to plot his biggest comeback of all, he is trying everything he can to be kind to himself, to allow himself to make mistakes, to not be the perfectionist he usually is.

“I have been afraid to announce things because in the end it’s a year without competing and it’s a hip operation,” Nadal said on Instagram and then on X (formerly known as Twitter). “But it’s not the hip that worries me the most, it’s everything else. I think I’m ready and I trust and hope that everything goes well and that it gives me the opportunity to enjoy things on the court.

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

“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.”

Patience the key to his comeback, says Nadal

Nadal said the results will come, if everything goes well, but knows it will probably take him time to hit top form.

“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 will begin his comeback at the Brisbane International, which starts on December 31, before going on to play in Melbourne, where he suffered the hip injury 11 months ago.

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