Nadal to play at Australian Open

Nadal has been out of action since January. File photo: Reuters/Miquel Borras

Rafael Nadal will play at the Australian Open in January, tournament director Craig Tiley said on Wednesday, as the 37-year-old former world No. 1 returns to the sport after undergoing hip surgery earlier this year.

The Spaniard, who has won 22 Grand Slam titles, has been out of action since January after hurting his hip flexor in a second-round defeat at the Australian Open.

He underwent surgery on a hip muscle in June and was expected to be sidelined for about five months.

"We can reveal exclusively here that Rafa will be back," Tiley said on The Today Show.

"He's been off for most of the year and in talking to him over the last few days he confirmed he will be back, which we're really excited about, the champion of 2022. That's awesome."

Tiley also said Australian Nick Kyrgios could return at the Melbourne Park Grand Slam after he underwent knee surgery in January and suffered wrist and foot issues in an injury-plagued 2023.

"We know Nick's been in training, wanting to return as well. So we expect to see him back," Tiley added.

Nadal has said he expects to retire following the 2024 season, with a series of injuries limiting his appearances on Tour.

The Spaniard has slipped to number 240 in the rankings but is eligible to receive a protected ranking having been injured and not competing in any tennis event for at least six months.

In Nadal's absence, Novak Djokovic has gone on to win a record 24 Grand Slams.

Nadal has won the Australian Open twice, with his last victory coming in 2022 when he beat Russia's Daniil Medvedev and became the first man in the Open era to come back from two sets down in the final to win.

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