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‘Rafa will be back’: Nadal to make grand slam return at Australian Open

Rafael Nadal is set to return to grand-slam tennis at the 2024 Australian Open, the tournament’s director, Craig Tiley, has announced.

The 37-year-old has not been in action since suffering a hip flexor injury during his second-round defeat to Mackenzie McDonald during the 2023 edition in Melbourne.

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Earlier this year, Nadal announced he would miss the French Open, where he has claimed 14 of his 22 major titles, as he was undergoing surgery on the issue.

His inactivity has seen the Spaniard slide down to 240th in the world, but Nadal will be able to rely on a protected ranking for the first grand slam of the 2024 calendar.

Speaking in an interview on Australian breakfast TV programme The Today Show, Tennis Australia chief executive Tiley said: “We can reveal exclusively here that Rafa will be back. He’s been off for most of the year and in talking to him over the last few days he confirmed he will be back, which we’re really excited about, the champion of 2022. That’s awesome.”

Tiley also revealed “some of the greats” will be making their way to the tournament, with the former women’s singles champions Naomi Osaka, Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber all lined up for returns. “We’ll welcome them – and their families – back to Melbourne with open arms and can’t wait to see what their next chapter brings,” he added.

Home favourite Nick Kyrgios, who has played only one ATP Tour match in 2023 due to injuries, has returned to training and is hopeful of being fit for Melbourne, with Tiley adding that he was “doing his utmost to get back to his best”.

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