Tennis: Hardcourt heroics have Nadal roaring into Open
NEW YORK (AFP) - Rafael Nadal's impressive return from a seven-month injury layoff, with a haul of nine titles including a French Open and an unbeaten 15-match hardcourt run, has made him a marked man at the US Open.
"Nadal is definitely back and he's playing maybe the best tennis that he ever has played on hard courts," said world number one Novak Djokovic.
"He's definitely so far the best player this year. There is no question about it. The results are showing everything." After healing the nagging knee injuries that have bothered him for years, Nadal dominated on his beloved clay with wins at Sao Paulo, Acapulco, Madrid, Rome, Barcelona and Roland Garros for his 12th career Grand Slam crown and eighth French Open title in nine years.
But what impresses his rivals on the Flushing Meadows hardcourts, where the year's final Grand Slam event starts Monday, is his unbeaten run on hard courts, taking titles at Indian Wells and in August at Montreal and Cincinnati in his US Open tuneups.