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Rafael Nadal: The Spaniard will miss the Australian Open due to a hip injury.

Rafael Nadal will miss the Australian Open and instead return to Spain for treatment of a hip injury he suffered at the Brisbane International.

Nadal, 37, made his long-awaited comeback from injury this week, winning his first two matches in Brisbane in straight sets.

However, he suffered an injury in his quarter-final loss to Jordan Thompson on Friday.

Nadal stated that a scan revealed a micro tear in a muscle, but not in the same location as his previous long-term injury.

The Spaniard, who had not played a singles match in 349 days before defeating Dominic Thiem in the first round, said the result was “good news,” but he was “not ready to compete at the maximum level.”

He said in May, after missing the French Open for the first time in 19 years, that 2024 would “probably” be his final year, implying he may have already played his final Australian Open, which he has won twice.

But, while his latest injury felt similar to the one that led to “one of the toughest years” of his illustrious career, it appears to be less serious than he initially feared.

“I’ve worked very hard this year for this comeback, and as I’ve always said, my goal is to be at my best level in three months,” Nadal, a 22-time Grand Slam champion, said on social media.

“Within the sad news for me of not being able to play in front of the incredible Melbourne crowds, this is not very bad news, and we all remain optimistic about the season’s progression.”

“I wanted to play in Australia, and I’ve had a few matches that have made me very happy and positive.”

“Thanks all for the support and see you soon!”

The Australian Open begins on January 14 in Melbourne.

Nadal will now concentrate on regaining fitness in time for the French Open, which begins on May 20 and which he has won a record 14 times.

His most recent Grand Slam appearance was at the 2023 Australian Open, where he lost in the second round to Mackenzie McDonald due to injury.

That was his final match before undergoing surgery on his left hip in June, and the former world number one has since dropped to 672nd in the rankings.

With Nadal’s withdrawal, this will be the first Australian Open since 1999 that does not feature either Nadal or Roger Federer, who will retire in 2022, in the men’s singles main draw.

Nadal expects that this will be his final year, so he will be flying home with a sense of sadness that he may never again be able to walk out onto Rod Laver Arena.

However, the positive words outnumber the negative ones in his social media posts.

That reflects the minor nature of his injury and the fact that he was able to play three matches and win two of them in Brisbane – not a bad return for an unseeded player who could face a top-10 opponent in any first round.

Time will tell whether Nadal can avoid injury long enough to accumulate the match count required for success later in the year.

The 37-year-old knows the end of his career could come at any time, so just as he wasn’t getting too excited about the way he played last week, he won’t be too depressed by the results of this MRI scan.

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