Novak Djokovic has responded after Rafael Nadal revealed that he would be able to return to competition. The 37-year-old has not played a match since getting injured in January and wasn’t sure whether his body would be able to cooperate. With his comeback now in the works, it comes as good news to Djokovic.
Nadal’s career looked to be in jeopardy when he picked up a left psoas injury during his second-round Australian Open defeat. He later ended his season and confessed that 2024 could be his last year on the tour. After an arthroscopic surgery in June, the 22-time Grand Slam champion gave tentative updates on his progress – refusing to commit to a comeback and remaining realistic about the chances that he may never be able to return.
But any fears have now been laid to rest as Nadal confirmed yesterday that he would be able to return and would soon give more concrete details about his comeback. It came as good news to the tennis world – and to his long-time rival Djokovic, who is now wishing for one last showdown.
“I think it would be nice for the sport to have at least one more match between Nadal and me,” the world No 1 said on Thursday. “That’s the biggest rivalry in terms of the amount of matches played that this sport ever had. Hopefully that can happen.”
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Addressing Nadal’s upcoming return to competition, Djokovic was full of admiration for his old foe. He continued: “He’s a big warrior. He’s somebody that really never gives up. With all the injuries that he had, keeps going. That’s definitely something that you have to respect and admire about him and his spirit. For the world of tennis, no doubt that it’s amazing news that he’ll be back.”
It comes one day after Nadal shared a promising update during a Tennis Clinic with his long-time doctor, Angel Ruiz-Cotorro. “I sincerely believe that I will return to play,” the former world No 1 said, per Marca.
“I can’t say at what level I’ll be able to return, but I’ve never lost the desire to play and now it seems that things are going in the right direction.” And the 37-year-old doubled down on his comments in an Instagram post on Thursday, teasing an upcoming announcement about his comeback.
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Alongside a photo of himself on the practice court, Nadal wrote: “I confirmed yesterday I’ll be back. Stay tuned these days when I decide and announce with my team when and where.” It remains to be seen whether the Spaniard will be ready in time for January’s Australian Open or whether he must wait to get back on a match court.
But Djokovic will be waiting in the hopes that he can set up a 60th career meeting against Nadal. Their last match came in the quarter-final of the 2022 French Open where it was the Spaniard who won and went on to lift his 22nd Grand Slam crown.
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