Rafael Nadal continued his comeback from injury with an emphatic 6-2 6-3 victory over David Nalbandian in the Brazil Open final last weekend, a result that has convinced many tennis betting fans on Betfair the Spaniard is capable of winning a Grand Slam this year.
Nadal, 26, played his first competitive match in seven months at the Chile Open two weeks ago and although he lost that final 6-7 7-6 6-4 to Horacio Zeballos, was superb on the clay surface in Brazil to claim his 51st ATP Tour title on Sunday.
So good was the 11-time Grand Slam champion that many fans who bet on tennis are convinced he has the durability and willpower to win another major this season, despite his long absence from the game.
Since winning Roland Garros last summer, Nadal’s dream season has turned into a nightmare as chronic tendinitis ruined his Wimbledon 2012 campaign and kept him out the Olympic Games in London.
There was hope he would return for the US Open or at least the ATP World Tour Finals later in the year, but a torn patella tendon confirmed he would miss the rest of the season.
Illness kept him away from Melbourne this January, but now he has finally made a comeback and already has a 2013 title to his name.
So how far can Nadal go? He is about to start his challenge for the Mexico Open title and is excelling on clay – his favourite surface. Having already criticised the hard courts on tour, Nadal is most likely to stay on clay in the lead-up to the French Open and should also fare well on Wimbledon’s grass.
Can he win either tournament? Absolutely he can, and if he takes Monte Carlo by storm in April there should be no stopping the clay king come Roland Garros in late May.
His knees still hurt apparently but the desire to win far outstrips this the pain, meaning his three elite rivals better watch out when Nadal returns to the grand Slam circuit this year.