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Rivals right behind Nadal in return bid

David Ferrer, the world No.5 from Spain, and Richard Gasquet, the world No.10 from France, both contradict the idea that Nadal’s prolonged absence is too long even for him to become the world’s best player again.


Rafael Nadal. Pic/Getty Images.

The murmurs of doubters increased with Friday’s news on Nadal that his six months on the sidelines with a damaged knee will be followed by more weeks out, reportedly because of gastro-enteritis. But Ferrer, voted Spanish player of the year in Nadal’s absence, talks differently.

“The good news is he doesn’t have pain in the knees, so that’s the most important,” he said, contradicting suggestions that the statement that Nadal has been unwell is merely cover for continued mobility problems. “I spoke with him few days ago. He was sick with a virus, and he preferred to stop (practising). And he will come back in South America (Acapulco in February).

“Rafael, he can do it because he’s a very good player. He’s a special player, no? He’s not like anyone else. Rafael, he’s very competitive, he’s a winner, and he’s young also. “I have confidence that when he comes back he will play good,” he said.

Gasquet sounds even more certain of Nadal’s resilience, suggesting that the seven-time French Open champion will be adding to his record-breaking exploits as soon as June.

“For sure he has problem with his knee, but I’m sure he’s coming back on clay in a month, and I’m sure he will be ready for Monte Carlo, that kind of tournament,” Gasquet said.

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