Rafael Nadal is on course to make his comeback at next week’s China Open, despite pulling out of the end-of-year International Premier Tennis League.
On the day that IPTL organisers announced that Roger Federer would be replacing Nadal in the inaugural competition, the Spaniard’s camp insisted he was ready to play his first tournament for more than three months.
Nadal has not played since Wimbledon because of a wrist injury. He missed all of the North American hard-court season, including the US Open, and has subsequently fallen more than 3,000 ranking points behind Novak Djokovic, the world No 1.
However, a spokesman for Nadal said that he planned to play a full autumn schedule, beginning with next week’s China Open, where Djokovic and Andy Murray will also be competing. The world No 2 also intends to play at the Shanghai Masters, the Swiss Indoors at Basle, the Paris Masters and the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.
However, Nadal will not be taking part in the IPTL, which will be played at four different venues in Asia at the end of November and the beginning of December. Nadal has decided that in the light of his injury-hit year he would be better advised not to play.
Nadal’s withdrawal is a major blow for the IPTL and its founder, Mahesh Bhupathi, though the former Indian doubles player could not have wished for a more high-profile replacement. Federer confirmed yesterday that he had agreed to play in matches on 7 and 8 December for the Delhi-based Indian Aces team.
Murray, who moved up one place to No 11 in yesterday’s world rankings will return to competition in this week’s Shenzhen Open in China.
Heather Watson suffered her third successive first-round defeat when she was beaten 7-5, 6-4 by Italy’s Sara Errani in the Wuhan Open.
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