Who will be joining Rafael Nadal at the Brisbane International? Ft. Naomi Osaka, Andy Murray and others

Left to Right: Rafael Nadal, Naomi Osaka, Andy Murray
Left to Right: Rafael Nadal, Naomi Osaka, Andy Murray

The 2024 Brisbane International Tennis tournament is set to be an exciting event, with several top players such as Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka confirming their participation. The tournament, a combined WTA 500 and ATP 250 event, will be held at the Queensland Tennis Centre from December 31, 2023, to January 7, 2024, offering a record AUD 3.1 million in prize money.

Michal Samulski, a member of the ITWA and Tennis Hall of Fame media panel, shared details about the event's lineup in his tweet on X (formerly Twitter):

"Rafael Nadal will back on tour playing @BrisbaneTennis. Brisbane’s field incl. ATP Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Holger Rune, Grigor Dimitov, Ben Shelton. WTA Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka, Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina."

Rafael Nadal, a 22-time Grand Slam winner and former World No. 1, is making a much-anticipated return to competitive tennis at this tournament. Nadal, currently 37 years old, has not played competitive tennis for almost a year due to a hip injury sustained during the 2023 Australian Open. After undergoing surgery and rehabilitation, Nadal has begun training again and is looking forward to his comeback.

Naomi Osaka, a former world No.1 and four-time Grand Slam champion, is also set to return to professional tennis at the Brisbane International. Osaka, who recently became a mother, would have fond memories of Brisbane, having reached the semi-finals there in 2019 and 2020.

Recently, Osaka shared a clip on Instagram displaying her backhand skills as she prepares for her 2024 comeback. Her performance coach, Florian Zitzelsberger, expressed confidence in her ability to compete for the highest prizes upon her return.

Joining Osaka in the women's WTA 500 tournament are Victoria Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion with a 15-2 win-loss record in Brisbane, and Aryna Sabalenka, the reigning Australian Open champion and World No. 2.

Andy Murray, former world No.1 and three-time Grand Slam champion, will feature in the men’s ATP 250 field. Murray, the Brisbane International champion in 2012 and 2013, will be joined by Grigor Dimitrov, an eight-time ATP singles winner and the 2017 Brisbane International champion.

The tournament will also see the participation of Holger Rune, a rising star in men's tennis. Rune, ranked World No. 8, has had an impressive year, reaching World No.4 in August 2023. Rune has a 44-24 win/loss record in 2023, with a title in Munich and final appearances in Monte-Carlo and Rome. This will be his first time playing in Brisbane.

Elena Rybakina, the Wimbledon 2022 champion and World No.4, will join the women’s field, adding to the star-studded lineup.

Ben Shelton, a Next Gen rising star and US Open semi-finalist, will be making his debut in Brisbane. The 21-year-old American, currently world No.17, recently won his first ATP tour singles title in Tokyo and will be excited to play in front of tennis fans in Queensland.

Rafael Nadal nears retirement, Tiger Woods expresses emotional farewell

Rafael Nadal (L) and Tiger Woods
Rafael Nadal (L) and Tiger Woods

Rafael Nadal is approaching what seems to be the end of his remarkable career. Nadal, a 22-time Grand Slam winner, has hinted at retiring at the end of the 2024 season.

Nadal's illustrious career faced a significant hurdle when he sustained a hip injury during the 2023 Australian Open. This injury led to Nadal missing most of the 2023 season, including the French Open for the first time since 2005. Known as the 'King of Clay', Rafael Nadal has an impressive record on the surface, especially at the French Open. He has won a record 14 times at Roland Garros, with five consecutive titles from 2010 to 2014.

In a press conference, Nadal expressed his feelings about ending his career, stating:

"The real situation is that I was not able to enjoy my work since after the pandemic. My body was not able to hold the practices in a good way, so I was not able to enjoy the practices and the competition." He further added, "I don't think I deserve to end like this... I believe I've worked hard all through my sporting career. So, my end won’t be here at a press conference. I will be finishing my career the right way".

Tiger Woods, a legend in golf and a friend of Rafael Nadal, expressed his sentiments on Nadal's potential retirement. Woods, admiring Nadal's resilience and achievements, mentioned:

"Well, I think what Rafa, what he's done is extraordinary... He won the Australian Open on a broken foot. The guy is beyond tough and beyond competitive... I don’t want to see him go. I never wanted to see Fed [Roger Federer] go, but that’s what happened... We should all enjoy watching him compete and watching him play and what he’s meant to the game, what he’s meant to all of us, just to see the passion of how he plays and why he plays."

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