The Nadal Comeback Begins
There are many question mark players awaiting the start of the 2017 tour. Has Father Time finally caught up with Federer? Will Murray be able to keep his number one crown? Will any of the Big Four chasers take that big leap and claim a 1st or 2nd ranking? One such question mark is that of Nadal. The Spaniard called time early on his 2016 season with a wrist injury. After a lengthy layoff, however, the Nadal Comeback is ready to roll. Can he do it though?
Perhaps we should ask Thomas Berdych.
Playing at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, Nadal defeated Berdych in straight sets to set up a tie with world number three, Milos Raonic. “Defeated” is a kind word to use for Berdych, however. The scoreline of 6—0, 6—4 tells a story of its own, but it’s the confidence Nadal has shown that is the real newsworthy item.
Berdych sits just one place below Nadal in the rankings (Nadal is currently 9th), but Nadal is only as low as he is because of his early lay off in 2016. Despite, this one would expect the number ten 10 player in the world to put up more of a fight against someone who’s been out of the game for so long.
Now, to be fair to Berdych, Abu Dhabi is an exhibition event, and while it may be meaningful to his bank manager, it has no bearing on his ranking. In short, he could probably be forgiven for not giving it his all. Judging by the much better account he gave in the second set, however, I personally think he just wasn’t expecting Nadal to come out of the blocks as quickly as he did.
But what does this mean for 2017? Is the sneering King of Clay back? Is he as good as he was five to eight years ago? Does he even need to be that good in the current tour? These are all questions we’re going to have to wait to find the answers for, but one thing is for sure; his intent is clear.
The Nadal Comeback is on.