Rafael Nadal's 2024 return to tennis is pressing the pause button. After suffering pain in the surgically repaired hip in his quarterfinal loss at the Brisbane International, he is pulling out of the Australian Open.
Nadal broke the bad news on social media. He said that he had an MRI on the hip when he arrived in Melbourne, and it showed a "micro tear on the muscle." The good news is that it is not at the site of the original injury. He said he was unable to compete in five-set matches while dealing with the injury.
It is a blow for tennis fans near and far who flocked to Brisbane International to see him and were planning to do the same in Melbourne.
What does Rafael Nadal's injury mean for his 2024 playing schedule?
It is premature to say what Nadal's playing schedule will look like in the coming months. It could be reasonable to assume that he will try to be back for the Sunshine Double of Indian Wells and Miami in the US beginning in March.
His injury raises the question of how he will manage the rigor of a Grand Slam. A two-week tournament that could consist of five-set matches, weather delays, and a difficult schedule allowing minimal recovery between matches could be problematic.
The French Open is four months away. Hopefully, he will be able to compete. From the beginning, Nadal has been cautious and somewhat pessimistic about assuming he would win another Grand Slam, including a 15th French Open. Fans and fellow players such as Andrey Rublev have their own opinions despite what Nadal has said publicly.
At this point, all we can do is wish Rafael Nadal a speedy recovery and revel in the fact that we saw him play some outstanding tennis at Brisbane International.