February 29, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Melbourne, Australia – Everything about Rafael Nadal’s preparation for this Australian Open was out of his regular routine.

And after missing six months on Tour with foot surgery, and then contracting the coronavirus at the Abu Dhabi exhibition, he arrived Down Under undercooked.

And so, he played the tuneup event in the Melbourne Summer Set, right on site at Melbourne Park.

And to get his feet wet, he played doubles with mate Jaume Munar.

The two were alternates; so were their opponents.

Marc Polmans and Alexei Popyrin turned into … Benoit Paire and Emil Ruusuvuori turned into … Argentine’s Sebastian Baez and Thomas Etcheverry.

Big Crowd on Small Court

Needless to say, small Court 13 at the back of the complex was packed.

Here’s what it looked like.

Nadal was pretty smiley throughout, clearly thrilled to be back on court.

The Mallorcan pair won 6-3, 3-6, [10-4] and moved onto the quarterfinals.

By Thursday, when Nadal opened his singles season with a win over Ricardas Berankis, he was looking big picture. Nadal and Munar gave No. 4 seeds Andrey Golubev and Franko Skugor a walkover.

Nadal won the warmup event in singles.

And then he won the Australian Open.

Turns out he knew what he was doing.

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