The King of Clay is putting his sore left knee to the test; and he’s winning…
Rafael Nadal competed in a pair of matches on Friday, defeating his fellow countryman Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-1, 6-4 to reach the semifinals at the Chilean Open and advancing in doubles at the tournament as well.
The 26-year-old Spanish tennis star, back on the tour after a seven-month hiatus due to his knee injury, partnered with Argentina’s Juan Monaco to register a 6-3, 6-4 win against Carlos Berlocq and Leonardo Mayer of the Argentina.
Nadal’s two victories meant he’d played five matches in four days. And while his knee is still hurting, Nadal feels it’s making progress.
“I felt better today than the first day, so that’s a positive thing,” said Nadal. “That’s a thing that gives me confidence and hope for the future that we’re going in the right way. After seven months out of competition, even if I don’t have the pain in the knee, at the beginning you feel slower, you feel more tired than usual so you need time to adapt. That’s the thing. I need time to do it. I still feel pain in the knee some days and that’s something we hope and think will be improving week by week.”
Nadal will play Jeremy Chardy of France in the singles semifinals Saturday. If he advances, he’ll next face another busy day on Sunday with a singles final and the doubles championship against Paolo Lorenzi and Potito Starace of Italy.
Nadal’s is hoping to get back to the top of his game to challenge the tennis’ fellow superstars: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray.
He took the court Friday with temperatures hovering around 85 degrees in the middle to the South American summer. He is likely to encounter similar temperatures when he plays next week in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and later this month in Acapulco, Mexico.
Nadal, who plays next week in Brazil, and later this month in Mexico,said he’s not focusing on the results while he uses the upcoming clay-court events to hone his game. But hisfans expect the King of Clay — he has won 93 percent of his singles matches on the surface — to win all three tournaments and show he’s ready to challenge for a record-stretching eighth French Open title in May.