Rafael Nadal’s Courageous Comeback Bid in 2024: Embracing Realism and Self-Forgiveness Amidst High Expectations.

22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal said he would not put too much pressure on himself and be prepared to forgive himself if things don’t go in the right direction at the start of his comeback next year. Nadal is set to return to action after a year-long break in January.

Rafael Nadal

It’s not the hip that is keeping Rafael Nadal restless ahead of his return to the court, but the mental aspect of the game is something that the 22-time Grand Slam champion is focusing on. Nadal announced earlier in the month that he would be returning to competitive action at the Brisbane International, one of the season-opening ATP 250 events, starting December 31.

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Nadal, 37, has not played since his second-round exit at the Australian Open earlier this year as the long-standing hip injury concern flared up. The hip injury was a significant setback, forcing him to withdraw from the French Open—a tournament where he has reigned supreme with 14 titles. The severity of the injury led to arthroscopic surgery on the iliopsoas muscle in his left leg, a procedure performed by a team of specialists including Canadian doctor Marc Phillippon. The surgery, which took place in Barcelona, was deemed successful, and Nadal embarked on a five-month recovery journey, respecting the delicate process of healing.

Nadal opted out of the rest of the season amid fears that he would return to the court once again. However, the Spanish great confirmed he would return to action in January, targeting an Australian Open appearance next month.

Speaking ahead of his return, Nadal said that the hardest thing to control next year would be his own expectations, considering the never-say-die spirit with which the Spaniard has gone on to conquer the world of tennis.

“I have been afraid to announce things because in the end it’s a year without competing and it’s a hip operation. But what worries me the most is not the hip, it’s everything else,” Nadal said.

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“I expect from myself not to expect anything. This is the truth. To have the ability not to demand myself what I have demanded myself throughout my career,” he said.

“I believe I’m in a different moment, in a different situation, and in an unexplored terrain.

“I have internalised what I have had throughout my life, which is to demand myself the maximum, and right now what I really hope is to be able not to do that, not to demand the maximum, to accept that things are going to be very difficult at the beginning and to give myself the necessary time and forgive myself if things go wrong at the beginning, which is a very big possibility,” he added.

The 2024 season is expected to be Nadal’s last on the professional tour. The Spaniard will be hoping to make a mark at the French Open after which he would have an opportunity to go for Gold at the Paris Olympics.

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