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 doing everything possible to make his on-court return ahead of the Qatar Open. He has pulled off an extraordinary stunt in a swimming pool, showing off his impressive lung capacity.

Nadal's comeback following an arthroscopic hip surgery has not been great. He returned to action earlier this year in January after not playing competitive tennis for nearly a year. However, a muscle tear forced him out of the Australian Open 2024. Before that, he suffered a three-set defeat to Jordan Thompson at the Brisbane International quarter-finals.

The Spaniard has been seriously undergoing training sessions to ensure he'll recover in time for the ATP 250 event in Qatar, which is due to begin on Feb. 19. Nadal recently shared a video of one of his swimming sessions while training at his academy in Mallorca. He did an entire lap underwater from one end of the pool to another and only rose for air halfway through his return journey.

Rafa Nadal impresses swimming legend, Michael Phelps

The video attracted comments from many viewers praising his skills and lungs. "Insane lung capacity," wrote a fan in a comment on Nadal's Instagram post. "Anyone else holding their breath alongside Rafa?" wrote a second viewer in Spanish. "We're coming for the Olympic gold medal in swimming," wrote a third user.

Among many compliments, one significant one was from swimming legend Michael Phelps, who commented: "Hell yeah!"

Over the last few weeks, Nadal has been sharing a number of posts on his social media accounts, showing his fans that he still wants to get back on the court soon and in his best shape. After sharing a photo of himself playing tennis, he wrote, "After being absent for a while, here we are. Back to training... with more intensity."

Following his withdrawal from the Australian Open, Nadal had said: "Right now I am not ready to compete at the maximum level of exigence in 5 set matches. I'm flying back to Spain to see my doctor, get some treatment and rest."

However, after the 22-time Grand Slam winner's recent training glimpses, it looks like he'll be back in action in no time. If Nadal indeed competes in the upcoming Qatar Open, he'll be up against the likes of Andy Murray, Andrey Rublev, and defending champion Daniil Medvedev.

Nadal has had a decent run in Doha, having competed there on eight occasions. He lifted the trophy in 2014 and also reached the final two more times, in 2010 and 2016.

Carlos Moya backs Nadal to win trophies this year

Meanwhile, Nadal's coach, Carlos Moya, recently stated his optimism regarding the player's ability to be competitive against the top players on his return from injury. Nadal overcame Dominic Thiem and Jason Kubler at the Brisbane International before his quarterfinal defeat to Jordan Thompson.

"Yes [he can be competitive against the top players], why not? He won the first two games well and almost beat a player who almost beat Tsitsipas in Australia the following week. That is, of a high level. I think that, after one game, I have no doubts about the level that Rafa can offer. I said he would need about 10 games to get to that 100% level," Moya said.

Moya, being "optimistic, but also realistic" stated that if Nadal does not suffer any more injury setbacks, he could very well challenge for titles in the remainder of the year.

"Rafa won Roland Garros a year and a half ago. If he has not had continuity, it is because of injuries. Until the Wimbledon injury, he had a spectacular year. I don't know if he is at that level, but if injuries don't prevent him, I think he will be a candidate player for the tournaments he plays," added Moya.