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By Richard Pagliaro | Monday, December 4, 2023


Rafael Nadal opens up about his fears, self-doubt and excitement ahead of his Brisbane International return next month.

Photo credit: BNP Paribas Open Facebook

Fear factor has long been part of Rafael Nadal's arsenal.

"Losing is not my enemy. Fear of losing is my enemy," Nadal famously said in a quote that's emblazoned on the walls of the Rafa Nadal Academy.

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Speaking on his comeback at next month's Brisbane International, Nadal said he's ready to face his fears and self doubt.

It will be the 37-year-old Spanish superstar's first match since undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery on his left psoas tendon back on June 2nd.

The king of clay concedes he's concerned by the overall state of his body to endure the rigors of a return to the pro circuit.

At the same time, Nadal says he believes he's ready for this comeback challenge.

"I have been afraid to announce things because, in the end, it's a year without competing," Nadal said in video comments on Instagram. "It's a hip operation, but what I'm most concerned about is not the hip, it's everything else. The reality is that it's a long time and you have doubts about your body.

"But hey, I think I'm ready and confident and hopefully things will go well and that it will give me the opportunity to enjoy myself on the court again."


A post shared by Rafa Nadal (@rafaelnadal)

The Brisbane International is set for the first week of January.

Brisbane will be Nadal's first competition since he hobbled out of the 2023 Australian Open.

American Mackenzie McDonald toppled the top-seeded and injured Nadal 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in the 2023 Australian Open second round.

Given his long layoff and uncertainty of how his hip will respond to the pro circuit, Nadal said his expectations are to hold no expectations ahead of his comeback tournament because he's in "unchartered territory."

"In the end, it's a long time. I hope, first of all, to feel those nerves again. That illusion, those fears, those doubts. I expect nothing from myself, this is the truth.

"To have the ability not to demand of myself what I've demanded of myself all my career."

The combined WTA 500 and ATP 250 Brisbane International will also feature Grand Slam champions Naomi Osaka, Andy Murray, Victoria Azarenka, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina, as well as world No.8 Holger Rune, world No.14 Grigor Dimitrov and world No.17 Ben Shelton when it returns to the Queensland Tennis Centre from December 31, 2023 to January 7, 2024.


A post shared by Rafa Nadal (@rafaelnadal)


A post shared by Rafa Nadal (@rafaelnadal)

The 22-time Grand Slam champion has created iconic legacy pushing himself to the limit—and sometimes beyond it.

This time, Nadal says, he will try to be kind to himself and "forgive myself if things go wrong" while striving to summon his best in what could be his farewell season.

"In the end, I think I'm in a different era, in uncharted territory," Nadal said. "So, you have internalized what you have done throughout your life, which is to push yourself to the maximum and, right now, what I really hope for is to be able not to do it, not to demand the maximum.

"To accept that things are going to be very difficult at the beginning and give myself the necessary time and forgive myself if things go wrong at the beginning, which is a very big possibility, but knowing that there may be a not too distant future in which things can change if I maintain the illusion, spirit of work and the physical responds to me. Without a doubt."


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