Nadal making 'big' steps in recovery, targets return in 2024

Nadal 'can't confirm' when he will return to tennis (0:56)

Rafa Nadal has said his earliest chance of return to the court would be at the Australian Open in January. (0:56)

Rafael Nadal said he is making "good progress" as he returns from a long injury lay off and is hopeful of a return to tennis in 2024.

Having not played since the Australian Open in January, the 22-time Grand Slam champion started training a few weeks ago following an operation on his iliopsoas in June.

Nadal is confident of a return now, but that wasn't always the case.

"I'm at a good stage of my life. Until now I didn't know if I would play tennis again someday, and now I genuinely believe I will," Nadal said.

"I'm still not ready to say when, but I'm able to train increasingly longer, and the progress is good."

The Spaniard is unsure what his return will look like, but said his future will become clearer soon.

"We know that the pain will never disappear, but I've taken a step forward. That's a lot for me," Nadal said.

"Talking about tennis is another matter altogether, as is the level I'll be able to play at. But the steps toward trying to play again have been big and positive, which is what we have been fighting for for several months.

"I'm confident I'll be able to say something more specific in the coming weeks."

While a return to tennis is the immediate goal, Nadal is tempering expectations for what happens when he eventually gets back on court.

"I won't win more Grand Slams than Djokovic, but I will have the chance to enjoy myself again," Nadal said.

"The hope is that I'll play again. You never know what will happen.

"My gut says it will be very difficult to get back to a good level of tennis. If I wasn't hopeful of trying to be competitive, I wouldn't be doing everything I've done over the past months at my age and after a long career."