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King of Clay Rafael Nadal has finally arrived in Chile, and will be seen on a tennis court for the first time in seven long months. The Spaniard was welcomed by Chilean president Sebastián Piñera on his arrival with a special ceremony for the former World No.1 in the South American country. Chilean tennis legends – Fernando Gonzalez and Olympic champion Nicolas Massu were also present at the ceremony.
At the VTR Open starting on Monday, Nadal will begin his comeback from a long injury lay off. The event will be the fit of three clay court events that the Spaniard will play in South America.
Despite missing two Grand Slam events, and the ATP World Tour Finals, Nadal is still ranked at No.5 in the World. What the injury has done however, is that he is no longer the Spanish No.1 with David Ferrer leapfrogging the southpaw, after reaching the semis in Melbourne.
Nadal said on arrival on Chile, “I am happy to be here in Chile for the first time and I hope to enjoy the next week in Viña. I hope it all goes well. I am here to compete.” Aside from a return in singles, Nadal will compete in the doubles with Juan Monaco.
The 26 year-old’s original date of return was the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in December, but the Spaniard missed the Abu Dhabi event and the following Aussie Open due to sickness.
President Piñera used the occasion to promote Chile’s work in the sports arena. The president stated, “We are creating a culture of sport in Chile, for this we will create a Ministry of Sport. In the past three years, we have added close to a million sportspeople.”
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