After a highly anticipated comeback, Rafael Nadal made his return a reality when he reached the finals of the 2013 VTR Open in Vina del Mar, Chile. It was the first time in seven years that the Spaniard played in South America.
With Nadal's imminent return, here's a list of reasons why tennis fans should be glad that Rafa is back on the scene. (Reasons are not subject to any particular order).
1. He's the king of the red dirt:
There's something irresistible about watching the clay flying up from under the soles of Rafael Nadal's sneakers as he glides on the terre battue. Whether it was fate or not, Nadal's return to his most coveted turf put the beat right back into out hearts as we watched him reach the final of his first tournament of 2013. The seven-time Roland Garros champion picked up just where he got off from his clay trek in 2012, improving his already outstanding clay court record to 257-20.
2. We'll be hearing a lot more "Vamos!"
Along with his fighting spirit, explosive emotions are right in Nadal's playbook. His trademark scissor kick after winning an important point leaves heads turning. Not only did his game transform the sport from what we knew it to be, but his fiery ecstasy is what also sets him apart from the rest of the field.
3. He's hungry:
... and we're not talking about Nadal's tendency to bite his trophies as he strikes a pose for photographers following a win. After a seven-month layoff, the world No. 5 is more than ready to step back on the big stage to release all the passion and drive that he's been bottling up since his injury setback.
4. His unique habits:
Nadal's sock-fixing, wedgie-picking, bottle-situating antics are only a few of the commonplace superstitions that make up his routine. They're as much a part of him as his victory-quenching hair flip.
5. That's one wicked lefty forehand, no?:
Rafael Nadal's English has progressed over the past few years, but we're always suckers for his accent and tendency to add "no?" to his answers in interviews. But, more importantly, when a ball drops in Nadal's wheelhouse, the topspin he generates off of his strings is unarguably one of these best tennis has ever had.
6. Tennis needs him:
Many juniors are looking up to their bandana-wearing idol for his personality, and defensive style of play. The only lefty in the top 20, the multiple Grand Slam winner's gutsiness has been emulated by tennis players worldwide and has elevated the popularity of the sport.
7. He can test the big guns, and show his big guns, too:
It's been a few years since we've seen Nadal sporting his shoulder-baring tops, but the Spaniard's physique is what stands out from the crowd. His hard-to-miss biceps are always looking to peek through as he rips a follow through finish over his head.
8. His warm-up routine:
Rafa's pre-match sprints to the baseline can produce more intensity than the energy other guys bring to the court throughout a match. Besides the select few that have been gutsy enough to imitate the Spaniard, there's no other player that charges to the baseline like a lion chasing after his prey.
It's been a lengthy seven months for tennis fans whose hopes of Nadal's return ranged from being as high as the stars to about as low as a sinkhole. But, after a rocky period that kept fans on their toes, it's safe to say that Rafael Nadal is finally back, and we're glad.
Olivia Glinka covers on-court and off-court tennis news as a journalist and blogger. You can read her content on One Stop Tennis.
You can also get the tennis scoop by following her on Twitter @OneStopTennis.