Shanghai: If there is one thing that everyone is talking about here, it is the absence of a certain Rafael Nadal.
Much has been written in recent weeks about the affable 26-year-old Spaniard’s return to the men’s tour, not because he is being missed, but also because it means so much to have the ‘best four’ instead of the ‘top three’ involved.
When asked about the issue, Andy Murray “welcomed” Nadal’s return, while Novak Djokovic spoke about the “excitement” created when the Spanish star is around.
Contrary to reports making the rounds in newspapers all over the world, Nadal may definitely be set for a year-end return, if one is to believe those close to him.
It was reported on Wednesday that Nadal — who has been out action since his shock second-round loss to Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon in June — is uncertain to play this year.
However, some predict that the 26-year-old will be back in a little over three weeks at the season-ending Barclays ATP Men’s Finals at the O2 Arena in East London.
And even if he does choose to skip the men’s singles event, Nadal will surely be in Alex Corretja’s Spanish squad for the defence of their Davis Cup crown against the Czech Republic at the O2 Arena in Prague from November 16-18.
In fact, word has it that Nadal is certain to partner fellow left-hander Feliciano Lopez in the doubles.
There is also an ongoing debate about whether the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals is a wise option for Nadal’s comeback considering that the indoor surface is not ideally suited to his game.
What could possibly be the rationale and argument in favour of Nadal making a return when he himself has been unsure about it?
Being the vibrant personality that he is, Nadal would definitely like to sign off 2012 on a high note. And what better stages on which to do this than at the ATP finale and, more importantly, as part of Spain’s defence of their Davis Cup crown?
Now if these two tournaments are the appetisers, then the meal could culminate in the best type of pre-season preparation to kickstart the new season.
The ATP men’s tour definitely feels incomplete without Nadal. Without him, it is a tussle between the top-three — Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. But with him, it looks more compact.
And, just like the top players awaiting his return, many fans will be hoping for the same.
To put it in his own words: “Impossible no, but difficult, yes.”
For this man full of fire, impossible is nothing.