The comeback is on, officially. After weeks of speculation, Rafael Nadal has delighted tennis fans by confirming that he will return to action in 2024 after all.

The Spaniard spoke to media on Wednesday at an event in Barcelona at the Clinica del Tenis, run by his sports physician, Dr. Angel Ruiz Cotorro, and gave positive updates on the progress of his recovery and comeback.

“I sincerely believe that I will return to play,” Nadal said, according to Marca. "I can’t say at what level I’ll be able to return, but I’ve never lost the desire to play and now it seems that things are going in the right direction.”

While Nadal fans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that he will hit the courts at some point next year, that’s about as specific as the 37-year-old was willing to get on Wednesday. Nadal kept mum on his upcoming schedule, and notably didn’t name an event nor provide a timeline for his return to the ATP Tour.


"I'm not ready to say whether it will be in one place or another, but I'm happy with how things are going,” he said. “A few weeks ago, I wasn't in a position to say if I could come back, but the steps forward have been positive. I hope to be able to say something more concrete in the next few weeks…

“I'm training and I'm happy. It's a good time in my life. This is a step forward without any doubt, and it's a lot for me."

The former world No. 1—and currently No. 664—has been sidelined since this year’s Australian Open in February, where he picked up a left hip flexor injury that would derail his season. Nadal was forced to withdraw from events including Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros before finally shutting down his season in June to undergo surgery and begin rehab.

Initially, Nadal said he was targeting the 2024 Australian Open as a possible comeback event, but has since stayed vague about his plans as his recovery and training have progressed.


One thing Nadal sounded sure about is that he won’t have any expectations going into next season. The 37-year-old has made it clear that he intends for 2024 to be his farewell year, and as such he won’t focus on chasing down titles and records—effectively leaving the Grand Slam race to 24-time major winner Novak Djokovic.

"I haven’t played for a year and for me personal success, which is often more powerful than overall success, is to continue to imagine returning to play,” said the 22-time Grand Slam champion. "I know it will be difficult to return to a very high level of tennis, but if I didn’t have the desire to be competitive again I wouldn’t have done the work I’ve done these months.

“I'm not going to win more Grand Slams than Novak Djokovic, but I'm going to have the opportunity to enjoy myself again."