One of the best tennis players of all time Pete Sampras has said that 11-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal might not be missed by his rivals but almost every other person related to tennis is missing him.
Sampras stated in a recent interview, “He’s missed. He might not be missed by the players, but he’s missed by tennis people and by the fans.”
Nadal is having an extended lay off due to his recurring knee injury and stomach virus. The former world number one has not played any tournament for nearly seven months, missing last year’s London Olympics, US Open, ATP World Tour Finals, Davis Cup final and now this year’s Australian Open.
Although, Nadal had recovered from the knee injury in last November and had started court training. The Spaniard was scheduled to make a comeback at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi and then take part in Qatar ExxonMobil Open and Australian Open but the stomach virus did not allow him to do so.
Nadal is now almost certain to make his much awaited comeback at the VTR Open in Chile at the start of February. After featuring at that ATP World Tour 250 clay court tournament, the Spanish star will play two more events on his favorite surface in South America during February.
Sampras thinks that Nadal has made a wise decision to make his comeback on the clay courts, as it is his favourite surface and competition will also be less tougher in the South American tournaments.
The American said, “He’s going about things the right way by returning at a clay-court tournament in South America, as he knows clay like the back of his hand, and the field in South America probably won’t be that strong so he could win the tournament.”
Sampras went on to say that no one can deny the fact that Nadal is being missed at the Australian Open and every tennis follower wants to see him back at his best as early as possible.
He added, “But there’s something missing in Melbourne. He’s great for the sport, and everyone wants to see him back at the top again.”
Nadal will drop to the fifth place in the tennis rankings at the end of the Australian Open, getting overtaken by his compatriot, Davis Cup team mate and very good friend David Ferrer.