Spaniard to miss Australian Open following hip injury

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Rafael Nadal failed to convert three match points in a 7-5 6-7 (6-8) 3-6 loss to Jordan Thompson in Brisbane

Rafael Nadal will miss the Australian Open and instead return to Spain for treatment on a hip injury he sustained at the Brisbane International.

Nadal, 37, made his long-awaited return after almost a year out with injury this week, winning his first two matches in Brisbane in straight sets.

But he was injured in his quarter-final loss to Jordan Thompson on Friday.

Nadal said a scan had shown a micro tear on a muscle but not in the same area as his previous long-term injury.

The Spaniard, who had not played a singles match for 349 days prior to his opening win over Dominic Thiem, said the result was “good news” but added he was “not ready to compete at the maximum level”.

“I have worked very hard during the year for this comeback and as I always mentioned my goal is to be at my best level in three months,” 22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal said on social media.

“Within the sad news for me for not being able to play in front of the amazing Melbourne crowds, this is not very bad news and we all remain positive with the evolution for the season.

“I really wanted to play in Australia and I have had the chance to play a few matches that made me very happy and positive.

“Thanks all for the support and see you soon!”

Nadal will now focus on returning to fitness in time for the French Open, which begins on 20 May and where he is a record 14-time champion.

His most recent appearance at a Grand Slam was the 2023 Australian Open, when he struggled with injury in a second-round loss to Mackenzie McDonald.

That was his final appearance on court before undergoing an operation on his left hip in June and the former world number one has since slipped to 672nd in the rankings.

He said in May, after being forced to miss the French Open for the first time in 19 years, that 2024 will “probably” be the final year of his career.

But while his latest injury felt in a similar place to that which led to “one of the toughest years” of his illustrious career, crucially it appears it is not as significant as he initially feared.

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