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regular-article-logo Saturday, 15 June 2024

'Emotional day' for Rafael Nadal as he marks his singles comeback after being out injured for nearly a year

22-time grand slam champion had arthroscopic surgery last June after injuring his left hip flexor during his second-round defeat by Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open in early 2023

Reuters Brisbane Published 03.01.24, 10:30 AM
Rafael Nadal during his match against Dominic Thiem in Brisbane on Tuesday

Rafael Nadal during his match against Dominic Thiem in Brisbane on Tuesday AP/PTI

Rafael Nadal marked his singles comeback after being out injured for nearly a year with a convincing 7-5, 6-1 victory over Austrian former world No. 3 Dominic Thiem in the Brisbane International first round on Tuesday.

The 22-time grand slam champion had arthroscopic surgery last June after injuring his left hip flexor during his second-round defeat by Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open in early 2023.

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Nadal returned to competitive tennis in the new season on Sunday and crashed to a doubles defeat while partnering retired veteran Marc Lopez but showed glimpses of his top form ahead of the Melbourne Park major.

“Today (Tuesday) is honestly an emotional and important day for me after probably one of the toughest years of my tennis career,” Nadal said.

“I had the chance to come back after a year and play in front of an amazing crowd and play at a very positive level on the first day is something that makes us feel proud — my team and family who have been there every day in the last year.”

The 37-year-old looked razor sharp again during his latest meeting with qualifier Thiem in a rematch of their 2018 and 2019 French Open finals which he won, as he ramped up the pressure and claimed the opening set with a break.

“I missed feeling competitive, playing in front of full crowds that have been amazing all my career here in Australia,” Nadal added.

Nadal’s 1,069th men’s tour-level victory meant he surpassed Ivan Lendl to sit fourth in the all-time list.


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