Toni Nadal on Rafa’s return in 2024: “If his body is fine, he thinks he’ll have the chance to do great things at Roland-Garros”
After a year out through injury, the former world No 1 will return to action at the Brisbane International in late December
The year 2023 has barely come to an end, but the focus is already turning to 2024, and one thing is certain: Rafael Nadal will be playing tennis again on the ATP Tour. And when he does, according to his uncle Toni, he will be as competitive as ever.
After a year’s absence due to the hip injury he sustained at the Australian Open in January, the Spaniard announced his return in a message posted on social networks on December 1. The man with 22 Grand Slam titles will play in Brisbane, Australia, from December 31 to January 7, in preparation for the Australian Open.
In an interview with RMC radio’s Bartoli Time programme, Nadal’s uncle and former coach Toni spoke about his nephew’s return to competition, with one main objective and one tournament that was mentioned very often during the interview – the French Open, a tournament he has won a record 14 times.
“Rafael is doing well. He’s back in training with good intensity, with the most important thing being the (dream) of playing the French Open again,” Toni Nadal said. “I don’t think he’s thought about retiring, for one simple reason, which he’s told me many times. He doesn’t want to retire with the feeling of being injured.
“What he dreams of is having a good year, trying to play at a very high level again. He knows it’s going to be very difficult, because every year it gets harder and harder… But his dream is to try to be here again, especially to play in Paris again. If his body is fine, he thinks he’ll have the chance to do really great things at Roland Garros.
HIS LEGS ARE NOT THE SAME AS THEY WERE 10 YEARS AGO, BUT IN HIS HEAD, NOTHING HAS CHANGEDToni Nadal
“The important thing is to have the feeling of playing well”
Nadal missed out on the Paris Grand Slam this year for the first time since 2004. Speaking on RMC, Toni Nadal went on to explain that his nephew was getting stronger and stronger in training and that he had the will to play the tournaments he loves in 2024, which could be his last year as a professional.
“His movement wasn’t very good at first but over the last three weeks he’s been training at a good level,” he said. “The important thing is not to try to win, but to have the feeling of playing well.”
“He has the will to still be here, he loves tennis, he loves competition, he loves the game. It’s his dream to play the tournaments he loves one last time. The more he plays, the more competitive he will be. We know that his legs aren’t the same as they were 10 years ago, but in his head nothing has changed. He still has the same determination.”