Rafael Nadal believes it is “impossible” for him to think about winning tournaments as he prepares to make his comeback from a year on the sidelines.
The former world number one has not played a match since injuring his hip during a second-round contest at the Australian Open in January but will take his place in the draw at the Brisbane International, which begins on Sunday.
Speaking at an appearance at Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall, Nadal said: “I am feeling good. I can’t complain. I’m feeling much better today than what I expected a month ago.
“For me, it’s impossible to think about winning tournaments. But what’s really possible is to try to enjoy the comeback to the courts. I don’t expect much. Honestly, the only thing that I expect is to be able to go on court, to feel competitive and to give my best.
“It’s going to be a tough process at the beginning. At the end, it’s one year without being on the tennis court and I just have been practising for the last month in a very good intensity. I don’t say that nothing is impossible, but just to be here is a victory.”
In May, Nadal admitted that he was staring at the end of his career as attempts to recover from the injury failed and that he hoped to be able to play a final year on tour in 2024.
He had surgery in June and, although recent weeks have been encouraging, the 37-year-old is not looking too far ahead.
The 22-time grand slam champion said he would not be setting “super long-term goals, because I don’t see myself playing for a super long time”.
He added: “(I want to) try to give myself the opportunity to be more and more competitive as the season goes on. I am not the player that that tries to predict what kind of things can happen in the short term, and it’s even tougher in a medium period of time.
“How I need to approach this process is accepting the adversity and that things aren’t going to be perfect at the beginning. I just have to stay with the right attitude and the working spirit every day.”
Also making her comeback in Brisbane is four-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka, who will play her first match since September 2022.
The Japanese star gave birth to daughter Shai in July, and she told reporters: “Being a mum has changed my life a lot. I think it changed my perspective on a lot of things.
“Giving birth was one of the most painful things I’ve ever gone through. It’s definitely made me feel like physically I can handle a lot.
“I want to show Shai that she’s capable of everything, so that’s one of my main purposes and main reasons why I want to be back out here.”