The hurt is over at last as Nadal comeback snowballs
By David Alire Garcia ,ReutersACAPULCO -- Rafael Nadal's fist-pumping comeback reached a new high with his victory at the Mexican Open on Sunday, giving tennis fans hope the 11-time grand slam champion can return to the top of the game.
March 5, 2013, 12:35 am TWN
In an unexpectedly one-sided match, Nadal blew away three-times defending champion David Ferrer 6-0, 6-2 in little over an hour.
But the relatively minor claycourt event in the picturesque Pacific resort city of Acapulco took on far greater significance as the sport's attention focused like a laser on Nadal's left knee and the injury that had forced him to take a seven-month hiatus from the tour.
Few top players have taken that much time off and been able to reclaim their former glory, but Nadal was not focusing on the history books following his latest win.
“I don't know if it's happened before, but what I do know is this has been the most emotional week of my career after such a difficult time,” the world number five said in an interview with Reuters.
While there were moments during the week when Nadal visibly limped, he said his knee fared much better than during his earlier comeback events at the VTR Open in Chile and the Brazil Open, both last month.
“There were days in Brazil when it was really bad, and in Chile, during one match as well. But here, it didn't hurt. It just bothered me some,” he said. “This was the first week where I could run with complete freedom and no limitations.”
Nadal, 26, suffers from chronic knee tendinitis and last September discovered he had a partially torn left patella tendon. He had been absent from tournament tennis since his upset loss in the second round of Wimbledon last year to little-known Czech Lukas Rosol.
Former American tennis pro Brad Gilbert noted that Nadal's latest victory came on the heels of wins over some of the sport's top competitors, including world number four Ferrer.
“Ferrer is playing arguably the best tennis of his career,” said Gilbert. “I mean, the guy has been on fire.”