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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Get ready for Rafa Time.

Rafael Nadal will make his long-awaited return to action on Thursday night, March 7th at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, the tournament announced. 

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King of clay Nadal is set to play the night session, beginning not before 6 p.m. local time at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Tickets for Nadal’s Indian Wells comeback are available here.

It will be Nadal’s first match since he let three match points slip in a 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-3 loss to inspired Aussie Jordan Thompson at the Brisbane International last month.

The 37-year-old Spanish superstar suffered a micro tear in his hip muscle in that match which forced him out of the Australian Open.

Playing his first match in nearly a year at the Brisbane International last month, Nadal unleashed a tornado of topspin storming through five straight games sweeping aside Dominic Thiem 7-5, 6-1. in his Brisbane opener.

It was a rousing return that left Brisbane fans exhilarated and Nadal and his team, including father Sebastian Nadal, elated.

It was Nadal's 1069th Tour-level win, surpassing Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl for fourth sole possession of fourth place on the all-time ATP victory list behind legends Jimmy Connors (1274), Roger Federer (1251), Novak Djokovic (1088).

After that January 2nd, triumph, Nadal said he felt the excitement and the nerves.

"When you are doing things that you are not used to do, you have more nerves than usual because when you are doing things almost every day, you know more or less what's going on," Nadal said of this comeback challenge. "You can play a little bit better, a little bit worse, but you have a standard that you know that you're going to reach that level. "In that case it's a combination of things.

"First thing, the emotions to be back on court after a long time and after a very tough process. Second thing, the doubts about your physical performance. And third thing, it's about you go on court -- I know I have been practicing okay last week, practicing I think at a positive level.

"You go on court, and you have the doubts if you are going to go there and going to be a disaster, because it can happen, honestly. It's not a thing that I am saying here to protect myself at all. I don't need it. I am not here to use any excuse at all. No, I know what's going on." 

Photo credit: Bradley Kanaris/Getty