"Welcome back" - Novak Djokovic cheers Rafael Nadal on as Spaniard makes successful return to tour after 12 months with Brisbane win

Novak Djokovic (L) and Rafael Nadal (R)
Novak Djokovic (L) and Rafael Nadal (R)

Novak Djokovic sent good wishes Rafael Nadal's way at the Spaniard making a successful comeback on the ATP Tour after 12 months.

On Tuesday, Nadal downed former US Open champion Dominic Thiem in his opener at the 2024 Brisbane International, winning 7-5, 6-1. It was Nadal's first competitive match since his second-round loss at the 2023 Australian Open.

The Spaniard's return to the tour was a cause for celebration for players and fans alike in the tennis world, and Djokovic was no exception. Taking to Instagram, the Serb cheered his colleague's victory, writing:

"Welcome back," along with a high-five emoji.
Screengrab from Instagram
Screengrab from Instagram

Even before the Mallorcan had announced his return to competitive action with a thumping win, Djokovic had expressed confidence in Nadal's abilities. In a recent interview, the World No. 1 had opined that the 37-year-old would not be making a comeback unless he was sure he could play at a high level, and said that he expected him to play at his best in Brisbane.

"I always expect him to play at his best, to be honest. Many times, they’ve signed him out, they’ve done that with me as well. But we’ve proved them wrong. He’s not a kind of a player that will come back to the tour just to play — let’s say — on a medium level, play a few matches," Djokovic had said.

Djokovic is currently in Perth, leading Serbia at the United Cup, where they have reached the quarterfinals. After his stint there, he will travel to Melbourne for his title defense at the Australian Open, presenting himself a chance to take on Nadal once again after a long while.

The duo last faced each other at the 2022 French Open, where the Spaniard came out on top. Overall, their head-to-head is 30-29 in favor of Novak Djokovic.

Rafael Nadal on his Brisbane International first-round win: "I don't know how I wake up tomorrow, but I can say now I feel good"

2024 Brisbane International: Day 3
2024 Brisbane International: Day 3

Speaking after the match, Rafael Nadal was ecstatic with the display he put up against Dominic Thiem on the night. He said he was very happy and that he felt "more or less free" on the court in terms of physicality.

"I am happy. I don't know how I wake up tomorrow, but I can say now I feel good. I felt more or less free on court that I can do the things that I need to do, and I don't finish the match with bad feeling at all in terms of physical performance," Nadal said.

Up next, the 22-time Grand Slam champion will take on Jason Kubler in the second round of the ATP 250 event.

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here

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Edited by Shyam Kamal
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