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Spanish Grand-Slam Champion’s Comeback after 349-day wait!

January 2nd - a day to remember, a day when Spanish tennis legend Rafael Nadal made his long-awaited comeback in Brisbane.  The 22-time Grand-Slam champion is back on court after an almost year-long break from professional tennis, caused by numerous injuries that haunted him last season.

Last time we had the chance to see Rafa on court was the beginning of 2023. After that, he was forced to sit out most of the season due to injury. Later that year he underwent surgery to treat a hip injury, making his long-awaited comeback even more uncertain.

Starting from December 31st, tennis stars competed against each other in Brisbane, playing both singles and doubles. This tournament is often used by players as a preparation before the first grand slam of the season - the Australian Open, which begins immediately after (on January 14th this year). The Brisbane International could not be missed by Spanish players, including none other than Rafael Nadal.

Still don’t know who Rafa is? Let me introduce him to you. The Spaniard is a 37-year-old world-class tennis player from Manacor, located on Palma de Mallorca. During his professional tennis career he has won 92 tournaments, 22 Grand-Slams, and  2 Olympic gold medals. Rafa is also recognised as a member of the tennis ‘big three’, alongside Roger Federer and Novak Djoković.

After 349 days of absence, we finally got to see the Spaniard playing on court again in front of the Australian crowd. Despite losing his first doubles match, he was loudly greeted on court and encouraged with loud chants of ‘vamos Rafa!’ His second match was against the Austrian former World No.3 Dominic Thiem. This time the Spaniard triumphed, winning in beautiful style 7:5 6:1. It marked his first victory since the beginning of 2023.

“The problem about saying it’s going to be my last season is that I can’t predict what’s going on 100% in the future. That’s the thing,” said Rafa to Reuters. “That’s why I say probably.” Before making his comeback, Rafa said that 2024 will most likely be his last year on tour. However, at the beginning of the tournament, he reassured fans by refusing to exclude the possibility of staying on court longer. “You never know what’s going on, you know? I can’t predict how I’m going to be in the next six months. I can’t predict if my body will allow me to enjoy tennis as much as I enjoyed the past 20 years.”

Though the exact date of Nadal's retirement is still uncertain, many predict that 2024 will be his last season on tour. The question that concerns many of his fans is whether Rafa will manage to win Roland Garros once again and gain his 15th French Open title. That would be the perfect end to his professional career, securing his legacy as  the ‘King of Clay’ and solidifying his place among   ‘The Big Three’.


Edited by Tatyana Kekic

Image – Rafa Nadal’s Facebook

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