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Rafael Nadal out of Australian Open with hip injury

Rafael Nadal after defeat at the 2024 Australian Open.

22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will miss the first Major of the season after picking up a hip injury at the ATP Brisbane International . It is a blow to the Spaniard, who was making his return to the tour after the better part of a year on the sidelines in Queensland. He reached the quarterfinals, beating Dominic Thiem in his opener and Jason Kubler before losing to Jordan Thompson in three sets.

Nadal revealed that he had noticed the injury in Brisbane before travelling to Melbourne where an MRI revealed that he had suffered a micro-tear. In a post on Twitter, Nadal said that this would prevent him from competing ‘at the maximum level of exigence in 5 sets matches’, leading to his decision to withdraw from the Australian Open.

His withdrawal will be a bitter disappointment to his many fans, with this likely to be his last season on the tour. Although Nadal was not amongst the favourites to win a third title at Melbourne Park, he had enjoyed several good runs in Australia after returning from a lengthy injury layoff, including in 2017 when he contested a memorable final against Roger Federer.

Nadal has not yet given a timeline for his return to action, though in his statement he noted that he and his team remain positive for the ‘evolution of the season’. How quickly he is able to return to the court will likely depend on whether he requires surgery to address the tear. If it does turn out to be only a ‘micro-tear’ he should be able to avoid surgery and Nadal could feasibly return to action by February, possibly in time for the Golden Swing in South America.

In the meantime, attention turns to the first Grand Slam of the season in Melbourne, where Novak Djokovic will be in search of what would be a record-breaking 25th Grand Slam and his 11th title at the Australian Open. Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka, meanwhile, will be looking to carve out a legacy of her own in Australia, though she will doubtless face stiff competition from the likes of Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff and Elena Rybakina.

Main photo credit: Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports


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