Rafael Nadal: Spaniard Should Sweep Major Player Awards
World No. 2 Rafael Nadal makes his return to tournament play at the China Open in Beijing this week, where if he reaches the final, he'll overtake Novak Djokovic for the top spot in the rankings.
If Nadal were to pull that off, it would only be the latest feat in a season of impressive accomplishments, which his peers on the ATP World Tour should recognize.
With 10 tournaments won this year—which includes two Grand Slams and five ATP World Tour Masters victories—the Spaniard should be considered a lock for player of the year.
But what about consideration for the comeback player of the year? And most improved player?
After all, the way the second half of 2012 looked, it started to appear that the knee problems Nadal has battled were finally starting to catch up with him, and there was serious doubt in the tennis world if he would ever be the same player again.
When his layoff extended into January 2013, and he was forced to miss the Australian Open, the doubt grew.
However, Nadal's return to action started well enough when he made the finals in his first tournament back in Chile. And from then on, save for a first-round loss at Wimbledon, he's done nothing but make it to title rounds.
Nadal has never had a run like that. While that may be unexpected, the fact that he's managed to go unbeaten on hard courts this year is truly surprising. After all, it was speculated that the root of his knee issues centered around the pounding his body was taking on cement, which was compounded by his style of play.
What other player has shown the ability to make such marked improvements under conditions that were career-threatening?
So, when the ATP World Tour hands out its annual awards, it should be Rafael Nadal walking away with the major hardware—which has been the case for much of 2013.
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