The injured Rafael Nadal announced on December 1 that he was returning to the game after a year of absence due to injury and surgery. The Spaniard will play in Brisbane. Then he will appear at the Australian Open. This information was also confirmed by the organizers of the Australian Slam. The question is how this is possible, because according to the latest press reports, AO did not give him a wild card. The Spaniard will reportedly use another option that will allow him to start.
Every injury comes with some setback. In tennis, it involves the loss of ranking points earned in tournaments that the tennis player was unable to defend due to absence due to injury. This also means a drop in the ranking, which in turn means losing the opportunity to be seeded in the competition, which results in a worse draw for opponents. Unseeded players often face the best tennis players in the world in the first rounds of tournaments, which causes them to leave the event prematurely. In Nadal’s case, the consequences of his injury are devastating.
During the January Australian Open, Rafael Nadal suffered a hip injury, which resulted in surgery and a year-long break from the game. As a result of the 12-month break and the number of previously undefended titles, the Spaniard lost all ranking points. After two decades, Nadal has dropped out of the top ten rankings and is currently ranked 664th. It’s hard to believe Nadal’s position in the ranking, considering that he has 22 Grand Slam titles and has finished the season in first place five times. His annual absence also affects the right to enter tournaments. So how come Rafael Nadal will play in the Australian Open if the media reports that the Australian Slam did not prepare a wild card for him? It turns out that the Spaniard decided to use the protected ranking.
The injury forces the 22-time Grand Slam champion to use a protected ranking or wait for a wild card from tournament officials. Journalist Jose Morgado reports that the Spaniard has decided to use the protected ranking. Under ATP rules, a player returning from an injury who has been out of action for more than six months can benefit from a protected ranking and frozen points in the first 12 singles or doubles tournaments. However, he still cannot use it to seed himself in the Australian Open and will remain an unseeded player next year in Melbourne.
Are you looking forward to the Spaniard’s return? Let us remind you that Rafael Nadal will play his first match in a year during the tournament in Brisbane in the first week of January 2024.