Toni Nadal believes his nephew and 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal 'should' be in good condition to play at next year's Australian Open.
Uncle Toni has been bold in predicting Nadal's comeback since he came out from rehab a few weeks after undergoing hip surgery. He's been getting a firsthand look at Nadal's recovery process and routine since and pinpointed the 37-year-old's return date to be at the first Grand Slam of next season.
Rafael Nadal stepped up his training in recent weeks and began intense hitting on tennis courts. He had been in constant communication with the Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley who made a stunning revelation that the two-time Australian Open champion will return to Melbourne next year.
Nadal has spoken of his desire to play one final year on tour in 2024 and exit on his own terms rather than surrender to injury. But he did not categorically confirm this claim by Tiely, and his backroom team has clarified saying, "It is too early to say."
But Toni Nadal has given a very optimistic view of his nephew's chances of appearing in Melbourne in January. Speaking to Spanish radio station Onda Cero, Uncle Toni noted that he's spotted gradual improvements in Nadal and is not ruling him out from competing at a high level.
"My nephew intends to be cautious, which is the right approach. But I believe that for the Australian Open, my nephew should be in good condition to compete, all going well, because I have seen him train. Every day he is improving a bit."
"It’s true that it has been a very long-term injury, but well, that’s how it is. In high-level sports, in the end, it’s almost obligatory to play with pain, unfortunately, because you push your body to the limit, and pushing it to the limit is what leads to all these problems."
"He is aware that the situation is complicated. Let’s say he manages to get to Australia, it won’t be easy to compete again with an added problem. He won’t be a top seed, and from the very beginning, he could face a high-level player. When Rafa plays a Grand Slam and faces a manageable opponent in the beginning, he gains momentum and becomes dangerous starting from the quarter-finals."