World No.2 Rafael Nadal is back after a hiatus of seven months as he looks to grab his tenth Italian Open title. Nadal had cited the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the USA when he withdrew from the US Open in August. The 19-time grand slam champion will play for the first time since winning the Mexican Open in February.
“Lucky birthday wish by the King,” wrote Monfils on the Instagram story.
Gael asking Rafa to wish a happy bday to Elina im🤧❤️ pic.twitter.com/mKRwcWFFey
— 𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐞 💔 (@_phenomenadal) September 12, 2020
Gael’s relationship with Svitolina started brewing after the Ukrainian had won the WTA Finals in 2018. The duo had made their relationship public at the Australian Open the following year and have been each other’s support on the tour ever since.
Nine-time Italian Open champion, Nadal is aiming to complete the ‘La Decima’ or a record of 10 titles at the event. Last year, the Spaniard had defeated his arch-rival, Novak Djokovic, in the final of the Italian Open and won his 35th Masters 100 title. He will look to make it 36 with this year’s tournament.
Rafael Nadal route to the final
The ‘King of Clay’, who has a first-round bye, will play fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreño Busta in the second round. Pablo had an outstanding run at the US Open where he lost the semifinals to Alexander Zverev, despite being two sets to love up.
Nadal might face Milos Raonic in the fourth round and potentially play against Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals of the competition. The 12-time French Open champion will most likely face Stefanos Tsitsipas at the penultimate stage. Tsitsipas had ousted Nadal in the semifinals of the Madrid Masters last year.
In the final, Nadal might face World No.1 Novak Djokovic. the Serb had beaten Rafael in the finals of the ATP Cup this year. However, Nadal leads with a win-loss record of 17-7 in the 24 matches the pair have played on clay.