Spanish tennis icon and 22-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal suffered an injury in the 2023 Australian Open in January and has not played since then while the date of his return is yet to be determined.
After not playing for over eight months, he also fell out of the world’s top 10 for the first time in his 20-year-long astounding career and is currently ranked World No. 237.
After going through surgery in June, the 37-year-old missed Roland Garros — which he has won 14 times — Wimbledon, and US Open.
Patrick Mouratoglou, former coach of the 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, believes that Nadal won’t return unless he feels that he can win a major.
“Will he be ready to win the Australian Open? Probably he’s going to be short. He wants to see if he’s able to win a Grand Slam still or if he’s far,” he said on Instagram. “If he’s far from the feeling that he can win a Grand Slam, he will probably stop.”
“But if he feels he can still [win], I think he will continue. Again, unless he has an injury that we ignore.” The Frenchmen further stated that Nadal is someone who wants to play a lot and also declared him a favourite at Roland Garros if he is fit.
“When it comes to Rafa, I understand he doesn’t wanna feel that pressure and he wants people to think that he’s coming next year to say goodbye. But that’s not the type of guy [he is]. He’s going to play fully,” Mouratoglou claimed. “He will have enough time to practise. Historically, he’s a player that needs to play a lot.
“The question mark is, how much injury-free will he be in 2024? If he doesn’t have pain and he’s free to play next year, there is no reason to think that he will not be dangerous or the favourite for Roland Garros.”
Earlier, Nadal, who is eager to return and play tennis again, made it clear that he will not be returning with hopes of winning any major title.
"Yes, I would like to play again and be competitive again, but the dream is not to come back and win Roland Garros or win Australia, so that people don't get confused, right?" Nadal said.
"I am very aware that at the time I am in my life, all that is very far away, right? And I don't say it's impossible because in the end I say things, I have said it a thousand times, all things in sport, they change very quickly," he added.