Spaniard Rafael Nadal makes his return via Brisbane International, to face ex-US Open champion Dominic Thiem

In a tough return to the ATP Tour after almost a year off due to injury, Rafael Nadal will face former US Open champion Dominic Thiem in the first round of the Brisbane International, reported news agency AFP on 30 December.

Earlier the former world number three, Dominic Thiem, was defeated by Nadal in the 2018 and 2019 French Open finals.

Thiem, the Austrian professional tennis player, has also struggled with injury and fell to 352 in the world in 2022 following a right wrist tear. He is currently ranked 98. Looking at the stats, the two champion players have played 15 times, with Nadal winning nine and Thiem six.

As per details, Thiem has won their past two encounters at the ATP Tour Finals in 2020 and the Australian Open the same year.

He is set to face Nadal in the Brisbane International ATP Tour on 2 January 2024.

Last ATP Tour for Nadal?

Earlier on 8 December, Nadal, the 22-time major champion and 14-time French Open champion had acknowledged the possibility that 2024 might be his last season as an ATP professional.

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Nadal required surgery twice and was out of action due to his hip ailment. He even lost in the second round of the Australian Open in 2023, when he faced American MacKenzie McDonald by 4-6,4-6,7-5 at Melbourne Park. His world ranking too dropped to 664th place.

Stating that it ‘makes no sense” to establish a retirement date, the Spaniard took to X and wrote, “My last reflection after the announcement… of course, I thought that it made no sense (to compete again)… that it has been many years…; I have fought and I have maintained the illusion at all times; I have had the right people around me as I have always had throughout my career…; … the people who want to see me play have had an impact; There is a good chance that it will be my last year, without a doubt. Thank you all.”

Now with the Spaniard making his return almost 11 months after his injury, he has said that he must approach his return with zero expectations, patience, and acceptance of his limitations.

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Published: 31 Dec 2023, 02:32 PM IST

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