Rafael Nadal will hope not to draw World No 436 John Millman at Australian Open

Rafael Nadal set for 2024 farewell after pulling out of French Open

Rafael Nadal will be desperate to avoid being pitted against John Millman at next year’s Australian Open despite the latter being ranked outside the world’s top 400. Nadal has been sidelined for a long time due to an injury he picked up at the last edition of the tournament, when he was dumped out in the second round by Mackenzie McDonald.

Nadal is set to retire at the end of next year, which means that his next appearance at the Australian Open is almost certain to be his last. The same goes for Millman, who is hoping to go out with a bang at his home Grand Slam before putting an end to his 18-year professional career.

Millman announced his decision to retire earlier this week, telling Channel Nine: “I’m happy to have been able to live out a dream of mine, which was to play professional tennis. It’s been an absolute thrill, I’ve had some really special moments on court.

“[The Australian Open is] the reason why I’m on court slugging away and playing through the pain, to hopefully get a couple of matches over the summer for [the home fans] to cheer me on and hopefully make them proud.”

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A meeting with Millman could represent a potential banana skin for Nadal, who would need to perform at his best with the crowd firmly in his opponent’s corner. Millman has a poor record against top players but would certainly be buoyed by the extra support from the stands if he ends up facing Nadal in Melbourne next year.

The Spanish legend will be hoping to avoid any slip-ups over the course of the tournament as he looks to win at least one more Grand Slam before his eventual retirement. He recently played down expectations when quizzed on the possibility of further silverware, with his long-term injury problems making it difficult for him to compete at the highest level again.

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“I want to be back on the court and compete but I’m not expecting to come back and win Roland-Garros and Australia,” he told Movistar. “That looks very far away, even if not impossible. Things in sport change very quickly.

“Since Indian Wells last year, it has been a hard year and a half with no peace of mind at all. There was no way to recover without surgery. I was not going to recover by stopping for a long time. I made the decision, and it turned out well. I’m not sure what I’m going to do in 2024, my hope is in two months to know how and where I am.”

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