Rafael Nadal's latest post on social media suggests he is taking encouraging steps to achieve full fitness ahead of his planned comeback in 2024.
Nadal teased the 20 million of his devotees on Instagram with a photo and the caption: 'Working', where the Spaniard is seen swimming in Porto Cristo, a tiny town located on the eastern coast of Mallorca, a few miles from his residence in Manacor, Mallorca.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion last played on Tour in January, where he succumbed to a shock defeat to Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open. It was during that match that Nadal aggravated a serious hip injury that has forced him on the sidelines.
Initial scans while in Melbourne revealed damage to the left hip flexor and Nadal was advised on a maximum recovery period of between 6-8 weeks. But he ended up missing the entire clay-court swing, raising concerns about his projected return to action in 2023.
The injury was a lot more serious than at first glance, and Nadal's patience ran out when he learned that he was not going to play at Roland Garros on the advice of his doctors. He delivered a chilling press conference just days before Roland Garros - a tournament that has defined his legacy.
Nadal's plan was to play in the French Open, but due to his lack of fitness, it was in his best interest that he went under the knife to cure the problem. After undergoing successful surgery in June, Nadal stepped up his recovery efforts, hitting the gym at his own tennis academy.
Contrary to initial plans about Nadal playing a part in Spain's Davis Cup matches at the Finals (if they get there), that is not going to happen. His former coach Toni Nadal expressed his nephew's intention to play at the Australian Open in 2024 if the recovery journey goes smoothly.