Rafael Nadal, facing doubts about the continuation of his illustrious career due to a prolonged absence, declared his unwavering determination to reemerge for the 2024 season. Despite acknowledging the possibility of this being his final season, Nadal remained optimistic, leaving the door ajar for a potential extension if his body permits.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion made a modest return in a doubles match alongside Marc Lopez, which ended in defeat against Australian pair Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell. However, the spotlight intensified as he geared up for his singles return, receiving a thunderous ovation from a packed Pat Rafter Arena, a testament to his revered status in the sport.
Nadal, granted a wildcard entry, faced a formidable challenge against Thiem, a former world number three who battled his own injury setbacks. Their history on the court revealed a competitive rivalry, with Nadal claiming victory in nine of their 15 encounters while Thiem secured wins in six, notably triumphing in their recent clashes at the ATP Tour Finals and the Australian Open in 2020.
In his return match against former US Open champion Thiem, Nadal showcased his prowess, commanding both opening service games with ease. The Spaniard’s resilience and skill were on display, marking a promising return to the singles circuit after his hiatus.