Rafa Nadal cannot say goodbye under the table

The full career of the Spanish Rafael Nadal It cannot be overshadowed by injuries. 2023 became a nightmare for lovers of tennis, that they could not enjoy the one from Mallorca in their top.

The worst was expected. Not being able to see Nadal say goodbye in style on the courts. However, 2024 started in the best way, because just as Australia is the first country to welcome the new year, they were also the first to enjoy the triumphant return.

At 37 years old and after two hip operations that prevented him from playing since January 2023, which put his continuity on the circuit in doubt, the now No. 672 in the ranking had moments of brilliance and gave his rival no option.

In what Nadal himself described as “probably” his last year active, the man from Manaco decided his match against the Austrian Dominic Thiem in one hour and 29 minutes of play, achieving his 1,069th victory of his career.

He is now the fourth tennis player in history with the most victories, after breaking a tie with the Czech Ivan Lendl. Ahead, he only has the American Jimmy Connors (1,274), the Swiss Roger Federer (1,251) and the Serbian Novak Djokovic (1,089).

And Nadal cannot go unnoticed if his last year will be 2024. Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz did not hide their excitement at seeing the Spaniard back.

For Alcaraz, Rafa went from being an idol, a reference to look at when he was just a child, to being a rival. “What a joy to see you on the track again, Rafa!”

Djokovic, for his part, assured in an interview that he cannot be a close friend of Nadal (or before that of Roger Federer) because they are rivals, but that he would like to share dinners and anecdotes once they retire. That does not take away the admiration that the Serbian tennis player has towards the player who beat him the most times, in what is the most repeated match in the history of tennis (30 wins for Nole, 29 for Rafa). In an Instagram story, Novak posted a photo of Rafa with the text “welcome.”

“I missed feeling healthy, I missed feeling competitive and playing in front of full stands like these,” said the Spaniard, full of joy.

A few hours before his return to competition in Brisbane, Nadal acknowledged that he considered retiring due to his hip injury, but now he leaves the door ajar even to remain active after 2024.