Rafael Nadal set for 2024 farewell after pulling out of French Open
Rafael Nadal has been out of action for almost a year, with tennis fans chomping at the bit to welcome him back on court for an emotional 2024 farewell. The Spaniard admitted back in May that next season will ‘probably’ be his last as injury issues continue to wreak havoc on his late-career ambitions.
In terms of Grand Slam titles, Nadal is the second-most-successful male tennis player of all time. The 37-year-old has banked 22 of them, leaving him two behind Novak Djokovic, and all four majors are expected to feature on his farewell schedule in 2024.
The first of the year is the Australian Open – a tournament Nadal has won twice before, most recently in 2022. Tournament chief Craig Tiley seemingly jumped the gun last month by claiming that Nadal would definitely feature, although the player himself suggested on social media that his comeback is still something of a work in progress.
The veteran is then expected to take part in a series of tournaments which have served him well in the past, likely starting with the Mexican Open in late February.
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Nadal has prevailed four times on the hard courts of Acapulco, and it should stand him in good stead for an appearance at Indian Wells just a few days down the line. The season will then switch to clay, a surface on which Nadal has dominated throughout his career.
The Monte-Carlo Masters is likely to welcome him in early April, providing he stays injury free. Nadal has triumphed there no fewer than 11 times, and another confidence-boosting run would set him up perfectly for two tournaments on home turf.
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The Barcelona Open, which has seen Nadal win 12 titles from as many final appearances, is followed closely by the Madrid Open. An outing at the ATP Masters 1000 Rome in May would then set up the serial Grand Slam winner for the centrepiece of his final year – Roland Garros.
The French Open has been Nadal’s stomping ground and nobody else’s since his first win in 2005. A further 13 titles have followed, and it will be an emotional return for the Mallorca-born star after being forced to pull out last year.
Although not Nadal’s speciality, a return to Wimbledon is surely on the cards in early July, although that may be the only grass-court appearance on his radar. He has also made no secret of the fact that he wants to appear at the Paris Olympics, which is also at Roland Garros, later that month.
A well-earned break could then be in store before the US Open in August, which may well be his final Grand Slam. And what better way to round off a glittering career than surrounded by legends at the Laver Cup? The tournament is spearheaded by Roger Federer and the Swiss chose it as the destination for his own emotional send-off. Nothing is confirmed as yet, but it could be Nadal’s final flourish in September next year.
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