Rafael Nadal made a triumphant return to the court after a year-long injury layoff. The 37-year-old Spaniard had not played singles since a second-round loss at the Australian Open last year, undergoing two rounds of hip surgery. However, Nadal’s layoff raised concerns about his career, but he remained determined to make a comeback for the 2024 season. His first match back was against former US Open champion Dominic Thiem at the Brisbane International, a match that he described as “emotional and important.”
Nadal displayed superb form and secured a clinical 7-5, 6-1 victory over Thiem in front of a full house at Pat Rafter Arena. Reflecting on his win, Nadal expressed his pride and gratitude to his team and family for their support during the challenging year. Despite acknowledging that there was a possibility that this could be his last season, Nadal expressed his delight at being healthy and feeling competitive again. He also expressed his appreciation for playing in front of a crowd like the one at the Brisbane International.
To prepare for the Australian summer, Nadal spent time at his academy in Kuwait, where he trained with promising French player Arthur Fils. His preparation showed as he lost only six points on serve during the match and made few unforced errors, demonstrating a nearly perfect display against a tough opponent like Thiem.
The first set of the match was closely contested, with both players serving well. However, at 6-5, Nadal increased the pressure on Thiem’s serve, leading to a series of errors from the Austrian player and ultimately winning the set. Thiem’s performance declined further in the second set, allowing Nadal to secure an easy victory.
In other news from the tournament, Yannick Hanfmann defeated Sebastian Korda, while Lukas Klein emerged victorious over Juan Baez. In the women’s draw, former world number one Victoria Azarenka came back from second set jitters to defeat Anna Kalinskaya, and Australian wildcard Arina Rodionova stunned former Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin.
Overall, Nadal’s return to the court with a win against Thiem marked a significant milestone in his career and served as a testament to his determination and resilience.