Tennis

Rafael Nadal relishing Beijing injury comeback

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Rafael Nadal, after months of frustration, finally looks ready to make his long-awaited return to action for the first time since picking up a wrist injury after Wimbledon.

The Spaniard was forced to sit-out the entirety of the North American hard-court season, including the Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows, with his injuries not quite clearing in-time to make playing pain-free.

However the former world no.1 is back in business for the Masters 1000 events, firstly in Shanghai and then to Paris, before the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals at London's O2 Arena, an event for which Nadal has already qualified.

Beijing return

Before those higher-ranking events, however, the 28-year-old joins a number star names on the bill for the China Open in Beijing; a 500 ranking-point event.

Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Grigor Dimitrov and US Open champion Marin Cilic will also be competing in the Chinese capital, and Nadal admits he's looking forward to his return.

“I am fine,” the world no.2 said at a press conference.  “I am much better. The thing is the injury, the evolution of the injury, was a bit slow and took a little bit of time. But that's it. I just feel the wrist a little bit when I am starting, when I start to play every day, but then it disappears. I'm in good conditions to compete again.”

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Lost time

Nadal's time on the sidelines meant he was unable to defend plenty of tournaments he had won in 2013, however at leas he won't have that kind of pressure straight away this time around.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion did win this tournament way back in 2005, as a teenager, but more recently it has been Novak Djokovic who has dominated.

Nadal's successor to the world no.1 slot is aiming towards his third consecutive title in Beijing and the Serbian's fifth in six years.

It isn't likely to be a walk in the park for Djokovic, however, the 27-year-old - perhaps Nadal's fiercest rival - is appearing for the first time since a shock semi-final exit at the US Open to Kei Nishikori, a tournament that he was expected to stroll to because of Rafa's absence. 

Rivalry

The fans will undoubtedly lick their lips at the prospect of Nadal and Djokovic renewing their rivalry, but the former says he doesn't mind who he faces.

“My motivation is always high. I am coming here to Beijing for a big tournament,” Nadal continued. 

“The best players are here. I try my best always. It's not because I'm coming back from an injury. This part of the season has always been a little bit difficult for me, and will be for sure even more this year after stopping for three months at the middle of the season. That was really bad news for me.

“But the last part of the season remains. I am going to try to be ready for it. I don't know in which condition I am going to be in, in terms of tennis, in these two tournaments, but I hope to practise and play as much as possible to be in rhythm again."

Tour Finals

Despite his outstanding talent, coming back from injury, Nadal couldn't possibly expect his perfect best just yet, but he'll be striving for that by the time the Tour Finals kick-off.

Remarkably, Nadal has never won the Finals - contested by the top eight ranked players for the calendar year - and will hope to turn that tide this year.

Djokovic has won the last two tournaments at the O2 while Roger Federer - also qualified for 2014 - is a six-time winner. 

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Topics:
Tennis
ATP World Tour Finals
Rafael Nadal

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