Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal will return to action next month at the Qatar Open after injury kept him out of the Australian Open. Loren Elliott/Reuters

Rafael Nadal is in line to return to the tennis court next month at the Qatar Open in Doha after being listed on the tournament entry list.

The ATP 250 tournament will be held in the Qatari capital from 19th February – 24th February.

The Spaniard had to recently pull out of the 2024 Australian Open after suffering another hip injury in a quarter-final loss to Jordan Thomson at the Brisbane International earlier this month.

This was another frustrating setback for Nadal as he was returning after a year-long absence from the court. A hip injury sustained 12 months ago in his second-round exit to Mackenzie McDonald at last year's Australian Open kept him out for the remainder of the 2023 season.

It meant the 22-time Grand Slam winner had to miss out on competing at the French Open for the first time since 2004. Having won at Roland-Garros a record-breaking 14 times, this absence was a major disappointment for fans of Nadal as that is where the Spaniard excels the most.

Luckily for Nadal, the hip injury picked up at the Brisbane International was not the same injury that kept him out for nearly all of last year. His participation at the Qatar Open suggests that the most recent injury he picked up is just a minor setback for him and not a long-term issue.

The 37-year-old last played at the Qatar Open in 2016 and previously won the men's singles tournament in 2014. He also won the doubles title on four occasions.

Other players set to join Nadal in Doha next month include current holder and world number three, Daniil Medvedev, world number five, Andrey Rublev and last year's runner-up, Andy Murray.

Nadal will likely view his appearance in Qatar as a way of regaining match sharpness and ensuring his game is ready for the remaining three Grand Slams this year. He will be determined to be ready for the 2024 French Open in late May and extend his winning streak at the clay-court Grand Slam to 15 title wins.

Motivation to get back on the court this year will also be very high for Nadal as he has previously hinted that the 2024 season could be his last as a professional player due to the injuries that he has sustained in years gone by.

Providing Nadal comes through unscathed at the Qatar Open, he will then compete in an exhibition match at The Netflix Slam against fellow Spaniard and world number two, Carlos Alcaraz, on 3rd March in Las Vegas.

Nadal will look to continue building up his form for the clay season and French Open by playing at either the Indian Wells Open or Miami Open in March. The Spaniard is more likely to participate in Indian Wells as he has had success there in the past by picking up three titles.

The spring clay season will begin in full affect from April and this will be when Nadal is ideally at full match sharpness. The Monte-Carlo Masters, Barcelona Open, Madrid Open and Italian Open will be held from here onwards and should serve as the main preparations for Nadal in giving him momentum going into the French Open.

From being dubbed by tennis fans as the "King of Clay", for winning 63 titles on clay courts in his career, Nadal will want to make sure he spends what could be the last season as a tennis player by thriving and dominating on the surface he has provided many great moments on.

Elsewhere, 24-time Grand Slam winner, Novak Djokovic, may be about to soon extend his lead over Nadal as the men's singles player with the most ever major titles. The Serbian has made it to the semi-final of this year's Australian Open and is the overwhelming favourite to come out on top in the tournament.