Iga Swiatek admits she is excited about former world No 1s Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka’s return to competitive tennis at the start of the 2024 season.
After missing the majority of the 2023 campaign due to a hip injury he sustained at the Australian Open, 22-time Grand Slam Nadal will make his long-awaited comeback at the Brisbane International in just over a week.
Nadal, who played only four matches this year as he was forced to undergo surgery in May, has confirmed that the 2024 campaign will most likely be his last season as a professional player, adding further excitement to his comeback.
Osaka will also be in action at the WTA event in Brisbane after missing this season due to maternity leave.
The four-time Grand Slam winner, whose last competitive match was at the Japan Open in September 2022, gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Shai in July.
“I really like to watch them, so just from a fan perspective I’m really happy that they are coming back and I’m going to be able to see their game,” she told The National News.
“Rafa obviously is a huge inspiration for me, so I just hope he’s going to play nicely.
“Naomi, we may play against each other, so it’s pretty funny but I’m happy that she’s back and she could fulfil her other goals and now come back to playing tennis.
“I’m just curious how they’re going to play, if they’re going to be rusty or not but obviously they are both really experienced so I hope they’re going to go well.”
Swiatek is currently in Abu Dhabi for the World Tennis League and the world No 1 is feeling refreshed after an extended break.
The exhibition event will be her final warm-up matches before her 2024 season gets underway at the United Cup in Australia on January 1.
“I feel like I could actually rest better this year [during off-season]. I worked on many stuff off-court last year during pre-season but this time was more peaceful, so I really could focus on practising,” the four-time Grand Slam winner said.
“There wasn’t much for me to do besides tennis so I’m really happy that I was really locked into the work and I feel that gives me a lot of certainty that I did everything I could during pre-season to work on my game and do some technical stuff and just try to implement it.
“I’m not thinking too much about the things that are going to happen in the future. I’m really just focusing on the tournaments in Australia and I’m going to take it step by step this time.”
Nadal and Osaka’s comebacks are the major talking points ahead of the new tennis season and Swiatek feels it is good for the sport.