Barcelona [Spain], November 16 (ANI): As the ATP Tour season 2023 is yet to reach its conclusion, with the ATP Finals approaching its final rounds in Italy, the 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has set his mind on the 2024 season.
The Spanish player, who hasn't played since the Australian Open and had surgery on his iliopsoas, has now announced that he will play again after returning to training a few weeks ago. In recent months, he has been putting in endless effort to achieve that goal.
"I'm well, training, and happy. I'm at a good stage of my life. Until now I didn't know if I would play tennis again someday, and now I genuinely believe I will. I'm still not ready to say when, but I'm able to train increasingly longer, and the progress is good," Nadal said in Barcelona as quoted by ATP.
"We know that the pain will never disappear, but I've taken a step forward. That's a lot for me. Talking about tennis is another matter altogether, as is the level I'll be able to play at. But the steps toward trying to play again have been big and positive, which is what we have been fighting for for several months. I'm confident I'll be able to say something more specific in the coming weeks," said the 22-time Grand Slam champion.
Following an injury sustained at the Australian Open and subsequent withdrawals from multiple tournaments, including Roland Garros, the 22-time Grand Slam champion had surgery in Barcelona in June, which marked the beginning of a protracted recuperation period from which he is only now beginning to recover.
"I've always maintained hope that I would play again. How much? At what level? It's difficult to answer that. I never lost hope I'd play. Things gradually become clear with the passing of the weeks. At the moment I'm on the right track," said the Spaniard.
The 37-year-old athlete claimed he hasn't set the highest standards for himself, such as competing in the Olympics in Paris or matching Novak Djokovic's Grand Slam record of 24 against the Mallorcan's 22. That is not the point; rather, it is about making a comeback that would stand for the accomplishment of recovering when there seemed to be no hope left.
"I haven't played for a year. Personal success is often more rewarding than general success. The hope is that I'll play again. You never know what will happen. My gut says it will be very difficult to get back to a good level of tennis. If I wasn't hopeful of trying to be competitive, I wouldn't be doing everything I've done over the past months at my age and after a long career," he added.
"The years pass by. My hope is that I will play again, and that is hugely satisfying to me on a personal level. I won't win more Grand Slams than Djokovic, but I will have the chance to enjoy myself again," reiterated the Spaniard.
The prospect of witnessing the Spaniard play tennis once more appears to be getting closer. (ANI)