Thursday, January 3, 2013

Nadal return could shake rivals

Nadal return could shake rivals

All eyes will be on the returning Rafael Nadal at the start of the 2013 men's tennis season, the player the others most fear on the circuit.

Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray have intriguing individual rivalries and produce some classic encounters, with the balance of power shifting one way and then the other. However, none of the present big three could lay claim to having the wood on Nadal.

World number one Djokovic beat the Spaniard at Wimbledon and US Open finals during an exceptional 2011, before starting this year with an epic victory over the left-hander at the Australian Open (you can check out the latest Australian Open 2013 odds with Paddy Power tennis betting. Nadal bounced back with three tour final wins on clay to take a 19 to 14 lead in head-to-head matches.

Federer has 17 Grand Slam titles to his name but has struggled to assert his authorityover Nadal, particularly at majors. Nadal has beaten the Swiss eight times in Grand Slams and leads 18-10 overall.

Nadal has enjoyed similar success against Murray. He has the edge over the Scot on all surfaces, with six victories at majors. Murray will be keen to improve his record of only five wins from 18 meetings when Nadalreturns to the circuit next season.

The 26-year-old has been out of action with a knee injury since Wimbledon in June. He missed the chance to defend his Olympic title in London and was ruled out of the US Open, as well as the ATP World Tour Finals.

Nadal has hit the comeback trail recently and is in line to make his return at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi later in December.

Djokovic and Murray will have an early opportunity to see how Nadal shapes up after injury but Federer will have to wait. He will miss the exhibition tournament as he looks to ease his workload in 2013.

The four Grand Slam titles were shared among the big four in 2012 and Nadal's return whets the appetite for another ultra-competitive campaign.

Djokovic and Murray, both 25, are expected to dominate in the coming years, but Federer is not done yet and will expect to add to histitles.

The only player with a question mark over him is Nadal. How will the knee injury affect his all-action style? The eyes of the tennis world will be on the Middle East later this month!