Rafael Nadal ready for Rio return

Rafael Nadal Rio Open

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Rafael Nadal claims he is “feeling well physically” as he prepares to start his favoured clay-court season by defending his Rio de Janeiro Open title this week.

The 28-year-old Spanish world number three, nicknamed the ‘King of Clay’ having won nine out of the last 10 French Open titles, has not been on the court since he crashed out of the Australian Open against Tomas Berdych at the quarter-finals stage last month.

It was the latest setback for Nadal who also lost his very first game of 2015 when he went out of the Qatar Open against Thomas Berrer.

Nadal has been back on the court working hard over the past three weeks and revealed that he is now getting back towards his peak fitness following a frustrating 2014 campaign which was hampered by surgery for appendicitis and other injury issues.

Looking forward to getting back into action on the clay in the heat and humidity of Brazil, Nadal told the ATP Tour website: “I’m feeling well physically… I don’t know if I’m ready to win here.

“I’m going to try to be ready for Tuesday – to be competitive; to have good chances – and after that we’ll see what’s going on.”

Nadal will face home player Thomaz Bellucci in his first game on Tuesday evening and he is 1.10 to win, while his opponent can be backed at 6.88 to come out on top.

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