Rafael Nadal admits his return to the top of the world rankings after battling a serious knee injury is the greatest achievement of his illustrious
career. Nadal is on the verge of capping a remarkable recovery by finishing the year at No1 in the world.
That would be an incredible effort given the 13-time Grand Slam champion was sidelined with potentially career-threatening knee tendinitis for seven months from mid-2012 until early this year. The 27-year-old Spaniard returned to win the French Open and then the US Open, as well as Masters events in Indian Wells, Madrid, Rome, Montreal and Cincinnati before reclaiming No 1 spot last month.
“It is the most difficult thing I did in my career. I’m 100 per cent sure of that. After seven months of not even being able to practice tennis I came back and won from the beginning and was very soon able to have success in the best tournaments and against the best players.
“Sure I had doubts if I would come back like this. The doubts I had were normal. They are part of life. I have doubts before every match and much more when I am injured for seven months. I didn’t know how the injury was going to improve or if I could get back on tour.”
Be fair to us, ATP
Meanwhile, Nadal has called on ATP chiefs to be fairer to their star players by providing a different surface each year for their flagship World Tour Finals. He is unhappy that the prestigious season-ending event has been staged indoors on hard courts for the last nine years, with the tournament held in Shanghai and then at London’s O2 Arena since 2009. The Spaniard believes that is unfair to players who don’t thrive indoors but have already proved the class by qualifying for the eight-man competition by succeeding on a variety of surfaces throughout the year.
‘It’s not fatigue’
Speaking on Monday, Nadal suggested playing the tournament outdoors on a different surface each year, giving clay, grass and hard court specialists at least one good chance to win every few years. Asked why he has never prospered in the Tour Finals, the 13-time Grand Slam champion said: “It is not only fatigue. One of the small reasons was fatigue, one of the main reasons was I have never been a fantastic player on the indoor surface.
Also I have been unlucky. “The Tour Finals have been indoors from 2005 until now, so I am a bit unlucky with this. For me, it is more fair to have it outdoors on different surfaces. In this tournament we qualify by playing on all surfaces, but the Tour Finals are always on hard courts.”