Alex Corretja defends Craig Tiley over premature announcement of Rafael Nadal’s Australian Open participation despite the ‘King of Clay’ refusing it

Nadal was hampered by a hip injury in his 2nd round defeat at the Australian Open, earlier this year.


Alex Corretja defends Craig Tiley over premature announcement of Rafael Nadal’s Australian Open participation despite the ‘King of Clay’ refusing it

L-R: Rafael Nadal, Alex Corretja and Craig Tiley. (Credits: The Canberra Times, Eurosport and Sky Sports)

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley stirred controversy last week when he prematurely announced 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal‘s return to the tour at the First Grand Slam tournament of the calendar year, down-under. “We can reveal exclusively here that Rafael Nadal will be back,” Tiley claimed in a conversation with Australia’s Nine network. He stated that Nadal personally confirmed his presence in Australia in 2024.

Tiley had to humiliatingly backtrack from his statement after Nadal’s team refused to confirm the statement, saying that it’d be too early for the Spaniard to commit to a return date. Nadal himself took to social media site ‘X’ to address the rumor, sharing a post captioned, “I appreciate the vote of confidence from the Australian Open… I am practicing every day and working hard to come back ASAP.“

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Talking about the issue on Cadena Ser’s ‘El Larguero‘, former Spanish tennis pro Alex Corretja claimed that Nadal’s response would’ve been much harsher if it’d had been another tournament director instead of Tiley.

“He was elegant and polite, he didn’t want to charge it. After 10 months, it would be understandable for him to say in public when he will return. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’ll be at the Australian Open until he confirms it,” he added.

“I have known Craig for many years and I am very surprised that he would try to make headlines like these if they are not true. I find it difficult to understand that an entity as important as the Australian Open would jump into the pool in this way without having the certainty that Rafa told them that things were going to happen this way,” he further remarked.

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Some fans have accused Tiley of trying to drive up the ticket sales by spreading false rumors about Nadal’s return to the tournament.

Keep Exploring: WATCH: Novak Djokovic gets flooded by fans for photos as he attends Red Star’s Euroleague debut

Rafael Nadal tones down fan’s expectations ahead of his return to tennis

In an interview with Spanish TV channel Movistar, Nadal talked about his much-awaited return to the sport after a lengthy absence due to injury. The Spaniard didn’t want to step too far ahead of himself as he toned down his Grand Slam expectations for the next season. The former World No.1 claimed that at this stage of his career, he won’t find it easy to get a deep run into the Grand Slam events.

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Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal (Credit: USTA and Movistar)

The Spaniard also stirred a mini-controversy as he didn’t congratulate his long-term rival Novak Djokovic on his record-extending 24th Grand Slam win.

Nadal fans are eagerly awaiting his return and their hopes to see him back on court received a major boost as clips circulating on social media showed the Spaniard looking sharp on his return to the practice courts in his hometown, Mallorca.

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