Rafael Nadal's return from injury will be "great for tennis", says world number eight Holger Rune, as the Spaniard builds towards an appearance at next month's Australian Open.
Nadal will return after close to a year on the sidelines at the Brisbane International, which runs from December 31 to January 7, as he targets a bid for a 23rd grand slam title at Melbourne Park later in January.
The 37-year-old has not competed since this year's edition of the Australian Open, having suffered a hip injury during a surprise second-round defeat to Mackenzie McDonald.
Nadal attempted to recover from his injury before the start of the French Open in May, only to be forced to withdraw from that tournament and undergo season-ending surgery.
The 'King of Clay' has said 2024 will likely be his final year on the tour, and while Rune accepts it will be difficult for Nadal to recapture his best form, the Dane is excited to see how he fares.
"It's great for tennis that Rafa is coming back," Rune said. "It brings even more fans to the tournaments and more excitement for the sport. I think this is good.
"We're going to have Novak [Djokovic], Rafa, [Carlos] Alcaraz, [Jannik] Sinner and more guys for the Australian Open. That's going to be super fun and it's exciting to see how it's going to go.
"You see some videos where he's practicing hard, but of course it's always difficult to come back and play after so long. But I'm excited to see it."
Jack Draper was the last player to lose to Nadal, going down in four sets in the first round of the 2023 Australian Open, and he is keen for a chance to avenge that defeat next year.
"I mean, I think it's amazing for tennis. Obviously, he's put in a lot of hard work to be back on tour, I'm seeing lots of videos of him training very intensely," Draper said.
"It's just good for the spectators, the players, that someone of his calibre – one of the greatest of all time – is back playing.
"I hope I get a chance to play him again because I think I was one of the last people to play him. It'll be amazing to have him back on the tour."
World number 32 Alexander Bublik echoed those sentiments, adding he was excited to see who will have the honour of being Nadal's final opponent if – as expected – he retires next year.
"Of course, it's very exciting that Rafa is coming back," Bublik said. "He's a legend of our game.
"But I just discussed it with Holger… I'm more excited to think who is going to play him in his last match, who he's going to finish such a legendary career against.
"So for me, it's an exciting time. We'll see how he comes back but he's going to bring a lot to the game."