Novak Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic believes Rafael Nadal’s comeback is “the best news in tennis” and suggested the great Spaniard will be dangerous when he returns.
The 2001 Wimbledon champion declared no players want to see Nadal in the first round of tournaments, while predicting the 2024 season will be “very competitive and interesting.”
Nadal has not played since suffering a hip injury in his second round loss to Mackenzie McDonald at the 2023 Australian Open in January. The 22-time Grand Slam champion underwent surgery on the issue in June, having initially expected to be out for only six to eight weeks.
The 37-year-old was forced to postpone his planned comeback during the clay-court season and missed the French Open for the first time since 2004. The Spaniard revealed in a press conference announcing his withdrawal from Roland Garros that 2024 would likely be his final season on the tour.
The former world No 1 won his most recent Major title at the 2022 French Open, where he defeated Casper Ruud in straight sets to claim a record-extending 14th Roland Garros crown.
Last week, Nadal confirmed he had made significant progress in his training and that he would be returning to the sport, with his comeback tournament yet to be announced.
“Until now, I didn’t know if I would ever play tennis again and now I think so. What has changed from a few weeks ago to now is that now I know that I am going to play tennis again,” revealed the Mallorcan.
“I didn’t know it before, but now, honestly, I know it because the evolution is positive. Big steps have been taken lately. I’m not yet ready to say where. When I know, I will be the first to say it. It’s a good period of my life. It’s a step forward, without a doubt, and it means a lot.”
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With Ivanisevic in his box, world No 1 Djokovic downed Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-3 to win a record seventh ATP Finals title on Sunday.
Speaking in a press conference after Djokovic’s triumph in Turin, Ivanisevic looked ahead to next year, with the Serbian looking set to compete with his young rivals and the returning Nadal.
“I mean, he beat them. Like I said before, I think Carlos didn’t play his best tennis. Still you need to beat him. ‘Nole’ lift his game. He came ready. He knew how to play unbelievable matches this year. Carlos already won two Grand Slams and he’s future of tennis,” said the Croatian.
“Jannik really step up this year. He showed the world and himself that he’s ready next year to win Grand Slams, and he’s not afraid of anybody. I think they going to both of them practice hard. The season is over. Not for Jannik, he has Davis Cup. But for Carlos.
“I think next year’s going to be very, very competitive and interesting year. If [it] is true that Rafa is coming [back], this is for me the best news in tennis. I love Rafa. Is going to be interesting, Rafa not seeded.
“He can play first round anybody. You don’t want to see Rafa first round in the hotel (smiling). It’s great for tennis. Rafa will come only if he’s 100% ready. And when Rafa is ready, I think he still has something to say in this left arm.”
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