Nadal makes winning return after 7 months out

Updated 07 February 2013
0

Nadal makes winning return after 7 months out

VINA DEL MAR, Chile: Rafael Nadal wants to stop talking about the inflamed left knee that kept him away from the ATP Tour for just over seven months until his doubles victory Tuesday with Juan Monaco at a little-known clay court tournament in Chile.
Nadal, whose knee problem has lingered despite on-going therapy, had not played since June 28 when he was upset in the second round of Wimbledon by qualifier Lukas Rosol.
Nadal and Monaco won easily in just over an hour at the VTR Open, defeating the Czech pair of Frantisek Cermak and Lukas Dlouhy 6-3, 6-2. Nadal’s practice sessions in Chile have lasted longer, and the first question centered on his knee — a sore subject with the Spaniard.
The former No. 1-ranked Nadal addressed the question for several minutes, and then said he wanted to drop the subject and concentrate on tennis as he begins a build-up to what could be his eighth French Open title.
“The knee — I said it when I got here. I would prefer not to keep talking about the topic,” Nadal said. “At the end of the day the doctors have said it’s OK. There is no risk of making it worse. My knee keeps hurting. But the fact I am playing here is a thing of joy.
“I am not 100 percent, I need some weeks,” he added. “If it hurts, it hurts and we’ll put up with it. I am here to play tennis, with or without pain. ... I’m happy to have played an official game, although it was doubles.”
Nadal opens his singles campaign Wednesday against Argentine Federico Delbonis, hoping to catch up to the other three of tennis’ Big Four — Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray.
The Spaniard has been almost unbeatable on clay, winning 93 percent of his singles matches — the highest percentage in the Open era.
Nadal has avoided surgery, and he suggested he hoped to continue on the same path.
“If one day it is worse, and one can’t compete at 100 percent, then it can’t be done,” he said.
Nadal showed quick reactions with a difficult backhand volley at the net to win the sixth game of the first set Tuesday. Nadal and Monaco broke in the next game, and Nadal held serve in the next to make it 5-3 en route to a first-set victory.
Nadal hit several powerful forehands at sharp angles to win points, and seemed at ease moving around the court. And he drew the usual whistles from female fans as he stripped off his shirt after the win.
“I need for the knee be stronger, to be more comfortable playing all out,” Nadal said. “There are days when the knee is not comfortable. ... Today I am in the second round of doubles and tomorrow I start in singles. I’m not going to speak more about the knee. What’s coming up is tennis, and that’s why I am here to try to play as well as I can.
“The more hours I am on the court, the better,” he added. “Today was important, but in another aspect it wasn’t so important. The most important was just to be here. There is no doubt that perhaps the result here is not the overriding thing. I’ll do all I can to win and play as well as I can.”
Nadal is a huge favorite to win in Chile. If he doesn’t, questions will follow him to the next two clay-court events in Brazil and Mexico — warmups for the French Open. But if he does win, the questions will also come up again at the next two stops in Latin America.
Toni Nadal, his uncle and coach, has said this year’s French Open will be much like Nadal’s first — meaning there will be nerves.
Others have noted that the weak field in Chile is much like Nadal would face in a sweep through the first week of the French Open.
Chile, without a top player since Fernando Gonzalez retired last year, has a new hope in 16-year-old Christian Garin.
Garin defeated Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 on Tuesday in the first round. He is only the fifth 16-or-under player to win in an ATP Tour event since 2000.

_


LIVE: Tunisia 1-4 Belgium. Double for Lukaku puts Eagles of Carthage on brink of early exit.

Updated 2 min 24 sec ago
0

LIVE: Tunisia 1-4 Belgium. Double for Lukaku puts Eagles of Carthage on brink of early exit.

4.30PM: It's starting to look like a training game for Belgium now, who are finally showing the sort of form we expect from such a talented squad. Best two displays from one team of the World Cup so far? We think so...

 

 

4.15PM: GOAL FOR BELGIUM: Any hopes Tunisia had of saving their World Cup have been snuffed out by Eden Hazard, who strikes home with the goalkeeper beaten to put Belgium 4-1 up. Unless Panama pull off a miracle tomorrow, you feel Tunisia are out...

4.10PM: Tunisia with a promising attack, but the move breaks down at the vital moment. Tunisia doing the right thing here, they have to attack and find two goals. Quickly...

3.48PM: HALF-TIME - While they had their moments, Tunisia were second best during that first period. Belgium could have perhaps got a couple more and the Eagles of Carthage have it all to do now. 

3.47PM: GOAL FOR BELGIUM - Moments after he should have got a goal Lukaku finds the back of the net, with a neat dink over the Mustafa following a great ball from Meunier. 

3.40PM: Again there is a lot to like about this Tunisian performance. Khazri is coming more and more intot he game and they are showng more ambition in the first 40 minutes than they did in the entire match against England. 

3.37PM: LOTS OF SUPPORT BACK HOME

 

 

 

3.32PM: TUNISIA COMING BACK INTO IT - Sassi and Khazri both have good shots saved during a period of dominance for Tunisia. Things are looking better for the North Africans. 

3.30PM: The Tunisia defence is being opened up at will here. Lukaku should have got his second and Belgium's third but a heavy touch proves his undoing. 

3.25PM: COMEBACK ON THE CARDS?

 

3.22PM: SUBSTITUTION -  Bronn is down hurt after blocking a shot, it looks like his knee buckled at a horrible angle. He is replaced by Hamdi Naguez.

3.17PM: GOAL FOR TUNISIA -  What a response! Bronn gets his head on the end of a Khazri freekick - GAME BACK ON! 

3.15PM: GOAL FOR BELGIUM -  It is all too easy for Belgium as Lukaku makes a pretty simple run yet finds himself in acres of space before drilling the ball leftfooted into the bottom corner. THis is not the start Tunisia were looking for. 

3.11PM: Almost another for Belgium as Lukaku does well down the right to set uop Hazard whose poor shot is easily saved by Mustapha.

3.10PM: FRUSTRATED FAN

 

3.08PM: Tunisia now know what they need to do, they cannot just sit back and wait for things to happen, they need to take the game to Belgium or face an early exit. 

3.05PM: GOAL FOR BELGIUM. Hazard makes no mistake from the spot, slotting the ball home for his 23rd international strike and an early lead for the favorites. 

3.05PM: PENALTY TO BELGIUM. Ben Youssef faouls the rampaging Hazard on the right side of the area and the referee has no hesitation to point to the spot. It's referred to the VAR who confimrs the bad challenge took place in the area. 

3.01PM: Twenty seconds gone and already Tunisia have dished out a hard challenge on Hazard, setting their stall out for the rest of the match. Belgium waste the resulting free-kick. 

3PM: The nationals anthems are being sung with gusto in Moscow. Can the passion in their voices be matched by passion and panache on the pitch? 

2.45PM: THE MEN TUNISIA NEED TO STOP - Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne are the main threats facing the Eagles of Carthage today. Can they keep them quiet? 

 

 

2.42PM: Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul swapped his goalkeeper with Farouk Mustapha taking over from Mouez Hassen, who played in the opening 2-1 defeat to England, failing to stop Kane scoring the late winner for the Three Lions.
In the only other change, Troyes midfielder Saif-Eddine Khaoui replaced Naim Sliti in the middle of the park for Tunisia.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez started with the same team which beat Panama for Saturday's World Cup group match against Tunisia in Moscow.
Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku is looking to add to the two goals he scored in their opening 3-0 rout of Panama for the clash at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow.

2.40PM: TEAMS ANNOUNCED. 

BELGIUM - Thibaut Courtois; Toby Alderweireld, Dedryck Boyata, Jan Vertonghen; Thomas Meunier, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco; Eden Hazard (capt), Dries Mertens; Romelu Lukaku

TUNISIA - Farouk Mustapha; Syam Ben Youssef, Yassine Meriah, Fakhreddine Ben Youssef, Ali Maaloul; Dylan Bronn, Ellyes Skhiri, Ferjani Sassi; Saif-Eddine Khaoui, Wahbi Khazri (capt), Anice Badri

2.30PM: The Eagles of Carthage suffered last-minute heartache against England on Monday, when a Harry Kane header in injury-time sealed a 2-1 win for his side in the opening clash of Group G.

Nabil Maaloul’s men now face highly fancied Belgium knowing another defeat would end their interest in the tournament after just one game. They looked solid, without ever being spectacular against England. Can they find another gear and cause a shock against Eden Hazard and Co?