Rafael Nadal has touched down in Kuwait to resume preparations for his long-awaited comeback as the 22-time Grand Slam champion looks to return to action at the Brisbane International tournament next month.
Sidelined with a hip injury – that required surgery – since January’s Australian Open, Nadal is currently training at his academy in Kuwait with recent Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up, French teenager Arthur Fils.
In a series of videos posted on his social media accounts over the last few days, Nadal announced his plans to get back to the tour in the opening week of the 2024 season at the ATP 250 event in Brisbane and shed light on what he has gone through over the past 11 months.
The 37-year-old Spaniard said he tried to comeback during the clay season but suffered one disappointment after the other and ultimately opted to undergo surgery.
He feels ready to compete once again but isn’t placing any expectations on himself.
“I hope, first of all, to feel again those nerves, that eagerness, 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 and in an unexplored terrain,” said Nadal.
The Mallorcan reiterated what he had said in his last press conference, that he deserves a better ending to his career than being injured and addressing the media in a press room – something that helped him keep going and continue to work hard on his recovery.
As for what’s to come, Nadal is aware the finish line is not too far ahead but is not ready to set a farewell date just yet.
“It is a reality that there are many chances that it will be my last year, without any doubt. There are chances that it may only be half a year, there are possibilities that it may be a full year, there are possibilities that we may not be able to reach all that,” he confessed.
“These are things right now that I do not have the capacity to be able to answer, this is the truth. I am only in conditions to say that I return to compete, that I continue having in my head that the normal thing or that there are many possibilities, that it is my last year, and I am going to enjoy the tournaments in that way.
“I do not want to announce it because in the end I do not know what can happen and I have to give myself the opportunity not to say one thing and then I can be a slave to what I have said.”
The 19-year-old Fils, who lost a close five-set final to Hamad Medjedjovic at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah last Saturday, was thrilled to receive an invitation from Nadal to train with him this week in Kuwait.
“I was really, really surprised. I mean he didn’t contact me personally, but it happened through my agent, so I was really surprised and really happy about it,” said Fils.
“It’s such a big thing for me to play with one of the greatest tennis players of all time. I will try my best and I will try to enjoy it as well.
“I will try to prepare very good myself also, because I have a big season coming. I will try my best for me and also for him.”
The Gulf region has become a popular destination for tennis players at this time of the year as they look to wrap up their pre-season training in perfect weather conditions before flying to Australia to kick off their campaigns.
Former world No.1 Andy Murray is currently in Dubai for a two-week training block and has shared a video from one of his practice sessions at the Aviation Club.
Current world No.1 Novak Djokovic has invited his compatriot, Next Gen ATP Finals champion Medjedovic, for a three-week training block in Dubai before they fly to Perth together to represent Serbia in the United Cup.
World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka and former world No.2 Paula Badosa are also in town and practised together at Atlantis The Royal earlier this week.
Many tennis stars will be Abu Dhabi-bound soon with the likes of Iga Swiatek, Elena Rybakina and Daniil Medvedev headlining season two of the World Tennis League exhibition event taking place at Etihad Arena from December 21-24.