Rafael Nadal has not played since the second round of the 2023 Australian Open when he was bounced by Mackenzie McDonald. Nadal was clearly ailing during the match and we later found out he had a hip injury and that injury eventually required surgery. The surgery happened in July, and Rafael Nadal is hoping to return to the ATP tour in January and play at the Australian Open.
Nadal has posted many videos over the last few weeks of him smacking the tennis ball around and looking as if he is definitely healthy enough to play. An issue might be his return to a hard surface like the Australian Open and then playing in the heat of the Australian summer. That is difficult enough for a player without a recent injury history.
But what should we expect from Rafael Nadal in 2024? He likely will be extra motivated as he has already expressed that 2024 will probably be his final year. He is also 37 years old and has not been as fortunate as Novak Djokovic, who is 36 years old, in terms of not being hurt. Plus, even after surgery, a hip injury can be career-changing.
One coach says do not expect much from Rafael Nadal in 2024
According to former Serena Williams coach, Rick Macci, during an interview with Tennis Infinity, we should not expect Rafael Nadal to come close to contending for a Grand Slam in 2024, not even the French Open. Moreover, players will not fear Nadal because he will have less mobility, according to Macci. Of note, however, is Macci is not a doctor and we do not know how much mobility Nadal will actually have until he returns.
Macci said, “…I wish Rafa all the best, but he’s not at the exact same level he was before so I don’t think he’s a contender to win a Slam.”
Again, we do not know at what level Nadal is until he makes his return. He clearly is one of the best players ever so even if he is not at the level we are used to seeing from him, he might still be able to defeat most players on the ATP tour. He might not be a threat at the Australian Open because that was never his best Grand Slam event, but at the French Open Nadal will likely find a way to be in the hunt for the title.
The key is Macci is just making an educated guess about how good Rafael Nadal will be. He doesn’t know. And we should hope Nadal is in top form because he is good for tennis and he is a joy to watch.