Rafael Nadal just made it official last week that he was getting back to practise on the tennis courts, and everyone began pouncing on him. It started with the Kooyong Classic tennis tournament in Australia and now the Heineken Open is jumping in the mix.
After being off the tennis circuit since June 2012, it was natural for people to get antsy without Rafael Nadal’s presence, but just last week when his coach Toni Nadal made it official that he was returning, the action started. Kooyong Classic tennis tournament in Australia got the ball rolling, but now the Heinekin Open is also hoping to lure Raffi.
Last week Nadal started hitting a ball in time and is on schedule to be ready for the Australian Open, starting January 14. After such a long absence, the Spanish tennis star will need to work his way back up and Heineken Open tournament director Karl Budge hopes he can lure him to Auckland.
Nadal has played at the Heineken Open two time, in 2004 and 2005. In his first visit he made it to the final before losing to Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty 6-4 2-6 5-7, while a year later he was forced to withdraw from his match, again against Hrbaty, with an injury.
Competition for Raffi is tight as organizers of the exhibition event in Kooyong, Victoria, the same week as the Heineken Open are also after Nadal, but he may decide that it would be better for him to play in an ATP tournament and one where there won’t be as much international media interest. Organizers at Kooyong have let it be known that there is one wildcard spot still open if he wants to enter.
Expect more of the Nadal pursuit as he continues his journey back. He’s been very smart in making sure that he was fully recovered before his return so as to avoid damaging his knee further. This past weekend he had to watch his country and David Ferrer lost the Davis Cup which many felt would happen without his being part of the event. There’ll be more chances for him to make it up, and I can’t wait to see him going back up against Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Welcome back Raffi, you’ve been sorely missed!