Rafael Nadal withdraws from Australian Open due to injury

Nadal suffered the injury in his Brisbane quarter-final against Jordan Thompson  (AP)
Nadal suffered the injury in his Brisbane quarter-final against Jordan Thompson (AP)

Rafael Nadal has been forced to pull out of the Australian Open due to injury, just one week after making his long-awaited return to the court.

The 37-year-old made his comeback at the Brisbane International this week, playing his first matches in 12 months, but suffered a “micro tear” in his hip during a gruelling three-set defeat to Jordan Thompson on Friday.

Nadal said he underwent an MRI scan upon arriving in Melbourne and while the Spaniard confirmed the positive news that it was not in the same area that forced him to sit out the majority of last season, the tear is significant enough for him to miss the opening grand slam of the year.

The 22-time grand slam champion confirmed on Twitter/X: “Right now I am not ready to compete at the maximum level in [best of five] set matches. I’m flying back to Spain to see my doctor, get some treatment and rest.

“I have worked very hard during the year for this comeback and as I always mentioned my goal is to be at my best level in three months.

“Within the sad news for me for not being able to play in front of the amazing Melbourne crowds, this is not very bad news and we all remain positive with the evolution for the season. I really wanted to play here in Australia and I have had the chance to play a few matches that made me very happy and positive.”

Nadal had surgery on the psoas tendon in his left hip in June after sustaining the injury at last January’s Australian Open, and said on his return that it was “impossible” to think about winning tournaments so soon into his comeback.

The 14-time French Open champion is aiming to be at his best level in time for the clay-court season in the spring and has previously said that it is possible the 2024 season could be his last.

Nadal defeated Dominic Thiem and Jason Kubler in Brisbane in what were impressive performances, before a marathon defeat to Australian Thompson in three hours and 25 minutes in the quarter-finals.

Nadal had to take a medical timeout during the defeat, sparking fears that he had reinjured the part of his hip that required surgery last June, but the former world No 1 appears hopeful that his comeback has only suffered a minor setback.