Craig Tiley’s brash brag over the alleged return of injured Rafael Nadal to January’s Australian Open has been knocked back quickly by the Spaniard’s camp.

The big-talking Tiley made the claim as Tournament Director at Wednesday’s launch of the 2024 Open – with apparently little or no actual facts to back up the out-of-left-field statement.

The ATP, desperate for some traction after nearly a year without the 37-year-old front and centre, was quick to take the claim as gospel, splashing it on the Tour website.

South African Tiley has been known in the past as a major “friend of the players,” supporting Novak Djokovic when the no-vaxx Serb was banned from  Australia in 2022.

Now, it seems the over-eager administrator has badly jumped the gun with regard to Nadal’s future plans after last competing in January.

“We can reveal exclusively here that Rafa will be back,” Tiley told Australia’s Nine Network, adding: 

“He’s been off for most of the year, and in talking to him over the last few days he confirmed he will be back, which we’re really excited about. That’s awesome.”

The statement was only a few hours old before Team Nadal slapped it down in no uncertain terms.

“We have seen the news that has emerged, but it is still too early to say, we cannot confirm it yet, simply because we do not know,” Nadal’s management said.

“Rafa has just started training and we have not published any return date to the slopes because we do not know it.”

In hopes of perhaps putting an end to the hype, Nadal himself came through with a statement concerning his current fitness.

“I appreciate the vote of confidence from the Australian Open… I am practising every day and working hard to come back asap,” the 22-time Grand Slam winner said.

Main photo:- “Friend of the players” and Tournament Director Craig Tiley and Rafael Nadal pose with Australian Open men’s singles final trophy 2022 – by Fiona Hamilton/TENNIS AUSTRALIA