Novak Djokovic has expressed some optimism about the return of fellow veteran Rafael Nadal at the upcoming Australian Open. This weekend, the Spaniard will make his return to the sport after being out for almost a year. Djokovic, who surpassed Nadal in Grand Slam victories in 2023, expressed confidence in Nadal’s ability to compete at the highest level despite his absence.
“I always expect him to play at his best, to be honest,” said Djokovic. The Serbian player, who won three Grand Slams in 2023, emphasised that Nadal is not the kind of player to return to the tour just to play at a moderate level. Djokovic believes that Nadal’s intention is to win titles and be the best.
Nadal, 37, last played in January 2023, suffering a second-round loss to Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open. His return to the tour is eagerly anticipated, especially considering the uncertainty surrounding his hip surgery and a drop in world rankings to 670th. Despite these challenges, Nadal is determined to make a strong comeback.
“I’m sure that his training and preparation are done with an intention to win a Grand Slam,” Djokovic added. Nadal, a record 14-time champion at the French Open and a two-time winner of the Australian Open (in 2009 and 2022) is known for his fighting spirit and resilience on the court.
Carlos Alcaraz, who recently played with Djokovic at an exhibition match, also shared positive insights into Nadal’s readiness. “I saw some videos of him practicing; he’s 100%,” said the 20-year-old Spanish player. Alcaraz mentioned hearing from other players who practiced with Nadal in recent weeks, and they believe he is ready to return to his top-level performance.
Nadal has indicated that the 2024 season might be his final one on the tour, which makes his return more significant. The Australian Open, starting on January 14 in Melbourne, will be a crucial tournament for Nadal as he aims to make a successful comeback and pursue his 23rd Grand Slam title.