Rafael Nadal has not played an ATP match in almost a year. The last time tennis fans saw the Spaniard was in the second round of the 2023 Australian Open when he injured his hip and had to retire. After spending months trying to rehab the injury, Nadal finally decided on surgery this past summer and he has been working his way back since.
Rafael Nadal is scheduled to participate in the 2024 Australian Open but before that, he will play in the Brisbane International which gets underway on December 31. It would be best for Nadal if he were able to make it through several rounds of the event simply so he can fully get back into tennis shape. Practicing is one thing, but high-stress matches are another.
While some might be apprehensive to make a statement about what to expect from Nadal this year, ATP No. 5 Andrey Rublev is not one of them. Rublev did not hold back in a recent interview about what he expected from Nadal. In fact, Rublev applied that the Big 3 - Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal - are just different from other players in terms of ability and mental strength.
ATP No. 5 believes Rafael Nadal can still win multiple Grand Slams
Rublev said, "...how many times people would say, not just about Rafa, about all those three players, every time they were injured or down and losing matches everybody was saying, ‘Now the time of Roger, or time of Rafa, or time of Novak – is coming to an end’, and they always proved them wrong. So I will not be surprised if he will prove it again and wins more Slams."
Note that last word: "slams." Rublev, who might very well be tasked with keeping Nadal from winning some Grand Slams, thinks Nadal, who might call 2024 his final year playing, is not only going to be a real contender at the French Open but others as well. Of course, Nadal is always going to be a threat on clay, but if he comes back after a year off and wins a major on a hard court, that might be a shock.
Maybe Rublev is just being nice. After all, he would certainly like to win a few Grand Slams himself. Heck, maybe a dream is to have Rublev and Nadal team up for doubles during a tournament. Wouldn't that be a fun watch?