The interesting thing about the men's tennis these days is that while we have plenty of characters, not a lot actually have Grand Slam potential. Every big event seems like it comes down to the same Novaks or Andys or Rogers and while that isn't great for the rest of the guys out there, it's always impressive tennis at the back-end of events.
And then there is Rafael Nadal. Only 26, Nadal has been sidelined for the last seven months with a knee injury that forced him to miss the 2012 U.S. Open and last month's Australian Open and while each final without him has been dramatic, there is still a feeling that something is missing.
Nadal returned to the court this week and won his first singles match in what seemed like ages, taking down Argentina’s Frederico Delbonis 6-3, 6-2 at the VTR Open in Chile. It was a solid win for a guy that has been away from the game so long, and while it's just one step in the right direction he moved on the clay surface like the guy we've seen in the past.
His motivation is obviously preparing for the French Open, an event he has won seven times including the last three, and if he's going to be ready for that he must settle in at some lower-level events like this one (No knock to the VTR Open, but Delbonis was a qualifier ranked 128th in the world, so it isn't like Pete Sampras was facing him at net).
It wasn't the cleanest of wins for Nadal, who missed some pretty easy shots and looked a little hesitant to plant on that left knee. But still, if he can keep it up, it would be a shock if he didn't win his first event back to the game.
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- Rafael Nadal