Rafael Nadal’s coach voices concern about star’s performance at Australian Open

Rafael Nadal’s coach insists he is optimistic about the 22-time Grand Slam champion’s fitness – but has admitted there are still some “fears”. Nadal has not played competitive tennis since the Australian Open back in January.

Nadal sustained a hip injury in the second round of the tournament in Melbourne at the start of the year. The 37-year-old underwent successful surgery in June and has gradually been building up his recovery to return to the court as soon as possible.

With 22 major titles to his name, Nadal hinted earlier this year that he could retire following the 2024 season, depending on his fitness. It remains to be seen if the Spaniard will feature at the Australian Open, a tournament he has won twice across his career.

His coach Carlos Moya, who won the French Open in 1998, has been Nadal’s trainer since 2016 and has been part of his compatriot’s recovery from the hip injury throughout the year. With the Australian Open a month away, Moya has revealed the “fear” that he has for Nadal ahead of the first grand slam of 2024.

“Rafa is going to go from training, which he is doing very well, to competing,” Moya told ATPTour.com. “And it is impossible to have the same conditions in training as in a match.

“Playing the best of five sets, win, rest, return to the court two days later… That is the doubt I have right now, especially for a Grand Slam. But we have time. If the Australian Open started tomorrow, it would be a real fear.’

“There is still a month left, a tournament before in Brisbane, demanding training. I think all of this will put him in a position to be able to endure it. But right now that’s my fear.”

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On December 1, Nadal confirmed he will be making his long-awaited return to professional tennis at the Brisbane International. The tournament gets underwent on New Year’s Eve and will be the first event that Nadal has played in since his second-round match against Mackenzie McDonald back in January.

“Hello everyone. After a year away from competition, it’s time to come back,” said Nadal in Spanish in a video posted on social media. “It will be in Brisbane the first week of January. I’ll see you there.”

Nadal’s opponent for the first round of the Brisbane International is yet to be confirmed. After the 37-year-old, who last won a Grand Slam at the French Open in 2022, has participated in the tournament, a decision will then be made over whether or not he is ready to make his return at the Australian Open in mid-January.

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