Rafa Nadal returns with defeat in doubles in Brisbane after almost a year of absence

After almost a year of absence from the courts due to injury, Rafa Nadal has returned to play a match and he has done so in the doubles draw of the ATP250 tournament in Brisbane (Australia). The return of the Manacorí tennis player to the competition has, however, had a bitter aftertaste, by signing a defeat with his friend Marc López against the local couple formed by Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson by a double 6-4.

The defeat is, however, the least of it. The smile with which Nadal left the center court of the Queensland Tennis Centre, in an attitude of complicity with his partner, was the highlight of the long-awaited return to the Balearic circuit, which will debut in the individual draw in Brisbane on January 2 ante Dominic Thiem.

After almost a year without competing, the 22-time ‘Grand Slam’ champion felt like a tennis player again and began to regain sensations with the racket, the ball and the Australian court, with a view to being in the first of the four major tournaments of the year. It is the same one where earlier this year, on January 18, 2023, he was injured and played his last game.

Having overcome that injury to the iliopsoas muscle in his left leg, Nadal decided to play again in a season that smells like goodbye and he has done it together with Marc López, ‘retired’ since 2022 and who returned to the courts to help the Manacorí, with whom he won the gold medal in doubles at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

This time, in Brisbane, victory was not a priority. Yes, it was not getting injured and starting to gauge strength. Even so, they put a solid, active and much younger couple in trouble who, in addition, were much superior in service – twelve direct serves from the ‘Aussies’ to none from the Spanish couple – and ended up winning physically.

The match lasted just 73 minutes, but they helped Nadal experience the match in style. Furthermore, having López by his side, with whom he won six tournaments and played 45 matches in his best moment as a doubles partner, was the icing on the cake for his return. The return has left him happy, smiling, and more prepared for his singles debut against Thiem.

Individual contra Thiem

Nadal will face US Open champion Dominic Thiem in the first round of the Brisbane International tournament on Tuesday, in a hard individual comeback to the slopes.

The Austrian, former world number three, was defeated by Nadal in the 2018 and 2019 Roland Garros finals, fought for two difficult qualifying rounds to get to the main box.

Like Nadal, Thiem also had to deal with an injury and fell to 352nd place in the world ranking in 2022 due to a torn wrist tendon. He is currently ranked 98th.

The two have faced each other 15 times, of which Nadal won nine and Thiem six. However, The Austrian won his last two games at the ATP Tour Finals in 2020 and at the Australian Open that year.

2023-12-31 10:46:13
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