Fifteen-time Grand Slam champion and new world No.1 Rafael Nadal (ESP) has confirmed his highly anticipated return to the tenth edition of the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp in January.
Nadal will take the number one spot when the official singles rankings of the ATP World Tour are released on Monday. This will be the first time the Spanish ace has hit the top spot since 2014.
“A lot of things have happened since the last time I was in this spot. Injuries and some tough moments, of course, but I have held the passion and the love for the game, and that’s why I have the chance to be back in that position again,” Nadal said prior to the Cincinnati Masters last week.
Nadal played Brisbane for the first time in January, with the tournament proving the ideal preparation for his Australian Open campaign after the 31-year-old reached the final at Melbourne Park against career rival Roger Federer (SUI).
“I’m very happy to be back, last year for me was the first experience and was very successful. The atmosphere is great and there’s a lot of nice people supporting the event. I really enjoyed the experience.”
Nadal’s matches attracted record attendances and fans embraced his physical and emotional style of play. More than a million people around the world tuned in online to a livestream of his first training session at the Queensland Tennis Centre.
“I loved the atmosphere,” he said in his final Brisbane press conference earlier this year.
“Thank you very much to all the organisers. It is unbelievable [here]. The people are so nice. It makes me feel better than home.”
His return to world No.1 follows his win at Roland Garros for a record tenth time, a feat referred to as ‘La Decima’, and his form continues to be blistering as he heads into the US Open.
This year has seen a remarkable resurgence from both Nadal and Federer, who between them have won all three Grand Slams in 2017.
“Roger and I are both having a great season. I think both of us are going to have the chance to be in that position [world No.1] until the end of the season. It depends on the results… So let’s see,”continued Nadal.
Brisbane International Tournament Director Geoff Quinlan said the world No.1 would be a sure-fire favourite with fans this summer.
“It’s beyond exciting to be welcoming Rafa back to Brisbane for our tenth tournament. He’s one of the world’s most legendary and electric players, and was adored by fans in Brisbane earlier this year,” Quinlan said.
“Nadal is in career best form having just won his tenth French Open title, and I’m sure he’ll delight fans with his physical game at Pat Rafter Arena.”
Queensland Tourism and Major Events Minister Kates Jones said securing Rafael Nadal for the 2018 event was a major boost to Brisbane International’s reputation as a world-class tennis tournament.
“To have the new world number one locked in to play in front of a vocal Brisbane crowd is a real coup for the event and for the tennis-loving public,” Ms Jones said.
“Year after year the Brisbane International attracts the best players on the planet with the world-class facilities at Tennyson helping to build its reputation as the ideal lead-up tournament for the Australian Open.”