Nadal lowering expectations for return to tour

Sports

MADRID — Rafael Nadal has lower expectations for when he returns to the tour in January after a year out.

Nadal announced Friday that he will play at the Brisbane International in Australia in January. The 37-year-old Spaniard has not appeared on tour since this January, when he hurt his hip flexor during a loss in the second round of the Australian Open. He wound up having arthroscopic surgery in June in Barcelona.

Nadal said Monday in a video on social media that he hopes to again “feel those nerves, that illusion, those fears, those doubts” on the court.

“I have been afraid to announce things because in the end it’s a year without competing and it’s a hip operation. But what worries me the most is not the hip, it’s everything else,” he said. “I think I’m ready and I trust and hope that things go well and that it gives me the opportunity to enjoy myself on the court.”

Nadal said he knows things may be different after so much time without competing.

“I expect from myself not to expect anything. This is the truth. To have the ability not to demand myself what I have demanded myself throughout my career,” he said. “I believe I’m in a different moment, in a different situation and in an unexplored terrain.

“I have internalized what I have had throughout my life, which is to demand myself the maximum, and right now what I really hope is to be able not to do that, not to demand the maximum, to accept that things are going to be very difficult at the beginning and to give myself the necessary time and forgive myself if things go wrong at the beginning, which is a very big possibility.”

Last May, a little more than a week before the French Open, Nadal announced he was missing the tournament that has earned him 14 of his 22 Grand Slam tournaments. He said then that he hoped to compete in 2024, which he expected to be his final season.

Nadal finished his message Monday saying that things could change for the best in a “not-too-distant future” if “I keep the illusion and the spirit of work” and if his “physique responds” well.

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