Rafael Nadal’s coach Carlos Moya has revealed his concerns over the Spaniard’s comeback ahead of the Australian Open next month.
The 22-time Grand Slam winner has not played competitively since suffering a muscle injury at Melbourne Park in January.
2024 is expected to be his swansong on the tennis circuit, as he admits his body is catching up with him after over two decades on the tennis circuit.
He will make his return after a near year-long absence at the Brisbane International in late December, and although Moya believes training is going well, he’s worried about how Nadal will cope over three and five set matches.
“You’re never aware of when that time is, very rarely. You just keep trying. And I think in that regard we’ve all had our doubts that it could come in Australia, he more so than anyone.
“We gradually increased the load and the intensity, always with a very careful plan that we followed.
“Sometimes we would have to take a step back, rest a little, slow down. But it’s the entire process that comes with an injury of this severity, and you’re at the point of your career when you’re no longer 20 years old.”
For now, though, he remains focused on adding to his haul of 22 majors, which puts him behind only Novak Djokovic in the all-time list.
The 21st of those titles was picked up in Australia in 2022, when he came from two sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in the final.
But, two years on, Moya is worried over whether his charge could complete such a feat again.
“Rafa’s going to go from training, which he’s doing very well, to competing,” he continued. “It’s impossible to have the same conditions in training as in a match.
“Playing the best of five sets, win, rest, return to court two days later…That’s 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’s 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 now, that’s my fear.”
The Brisbane International gets underway on December 31, two weeks before the Australian Open.
Having dropped out of the world’s top 100 for the first time in over 20 years because of his injury absence, Nadal requires a wild card for both tournaments.
He will go up against a stacked field in Brisbane that includes two-time winner Andy Murray, world No. 8 Holger Rune and US Open semi-finalist Ben Shelton.
She is one of several Grand Slam winners in the field, alongside Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina and Victoria Azarenka.
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