Sebastien Grosjean is optimistic for Rafael Nadal ahead of his comeback because he feels champions “find the rhythm” when they return to competitive action.
The former world No 4 used Nadal’s rival Roger Federer to illustrate his point by highlighting the superb 2017 season the Swiss great had after coming back from an injury layoff.
Nadal announced last week that he would be making his long-awaited return to action at the Brisbane International tournament in January in preparation for the 2024 Australian Open.
The former world No 1 has not played since suffering a hip injury in his second round loss to Mackenzie McDonald at the 2023 Australian Open in January. The 37-year-old underwent surgery to address the issue in June, having initially expected to be out for just six to eight weeks.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion was forced to cancel his planned comeback during the clay-court season and missed the French Open for the first time since 2004.
The Mallorcan explained in a press conference announcing his withdrawal from Roland Garros that 2024 would likely be his final season on the tour.
In 2017, Federer won the Australian Open to claim his first Grand Slam title in almost five years, having made his comeback at the Hopman Cup. The Swiss had not played since Wimbledon in July 2016 due to a knee injury.
Federer, who turned 36 in August 2017, went on to have an amazing resurgent campaign as he posted a stunning 54–5 (91.5%) record and claimed seven titles, which included adding Wimbledon to his Melbourne crown.
In an interview with L’Equipe, Grosjean expressed his delight at Nadal’s imminent return and suggested Federer’s 2017 comeback showcases what could be possible for the Spanish legend.
“I’m a fan of Rafa, I love the champion and the man, so I’m delighted, it’s great that he’s coming back. It’s a good sign, it’s good. I can’t wait to see him again,” the Frenchman said.
“We’ll see how he recovers, we’ll see him train. If he announced his return for Brisbane and Melbourne, it is because, on a physical level, he is there. These champions, once they return to competition, they find the rhythm.
“Federer did it after Wimbledon [in 2016] – the [knee] operation, six months of absence and, behind that, he won the Australian Open and Wimbledon [in 2017].”
Grosjean won four ATP titles and reached four Grand Slam semi-finals during a 14-year career spanning from 1996 to 2010.