Despite the uncertainty surrounding Rafael Nadal’s return to competitive play, one organization is encouraging him to get back in the game in time for the 2024 Paris Games.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is planning to do everything it can to encourage the 37-year-old former world No. 1 to compete in the Paris Olympic Games, the global tennis body’s chief David Haggerty tells Reuters.
Nadal has been sidelined since hurting his hip flexor in a second-round loss to Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open in mid-January and has yet to confirm his plans for next season following surgery.
Nadal had previously said he expects to retire following the 2024 season and hoped to play in the Paris Games with the tennis tournament set to take place at Roland Garros, where he has won 14 of his 22 Grand Slam titles.
Nadal won the Olympic singles gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Games and the doubles gold eight years later at the 2016 Rio Games.
“We know what a champion he is and a medalist a number of times so it certainly could be a storybook ending, so to speak, for him. It would be great. Whether he does or not, will be up to him,” Haggerty told Reuters in a video call on Monday.
“But we’ll do everything we can to encourage him to play, because I think it would be great. Knowing that it’s in Paris, at Roland Garros, where he’s had such tremendous success would be a great venue for him to be able to compete at.”
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said earlier this month Nadal would return to Grand Slam tennis at Melbourne Park, but the player’s representative said no timeline had been set for his comeback.
Nadal has been stepping up his recovery and releasing videos on social media of his training.
“I think the main thing for him is just being healthy and feeling he can compete at the level that he wants to, because that’s the kind of competitor he is,” Haggerty said.
“He wants to be at the top of his game and we wish him the best.”