2/3/13 1:36 PM | Ricky Dimon
This will be a VTR Open like no other. For the first time since the second round of last summer's Wimbledon Championships, Rafael Nadal will be back on the tennis court for ATP tournament action.
Look no further than the top of the VTR Open draw and you will see a name that has not been on display since Wimbledon.You will also know, right away, that the VTR Open is going to be something special.
Rafael Nadal, whose most recent knee injury has resulted in the lengthiest layoff of his career, will be back in action for the first time in more than seven months when he takes the court this week in Vina del Mar. Nadal's last appearance was an infamous loss to Lukas Rosol in the second round at the All-England Club.
The fifth-ranked Spaniard (now one spot behind countryman David Ferrer), has a first-round bye before making his debut on Wednesday against either Guido Pella or a qualifier. Potential semifinal opponents for Nadal include Nicolas Massu, Albert Montanes, and seventh-seeded Daniel Gimeno-Traver. Rounding out a modest top half of the draw are Tommy Robredo plus seeds Jeremy Chardy and Paolo Lorenzi.
"I need weeks of working on the circuit," Nadal cautioned. "This is my first week and I don't think the goals are the same that the ones I will have in two more months. I have to take it slowly and be humble to know that things won't be as good as they were before my injury. I need to be patient.
"I hope the tournament will help me to get the feeling I need to add week after week after a long period without competition. Results are the least important thing right now."
Nadal is potentially on a collision course for the final with doubles partner Juan Monaco, the No. 2 seed (they kick off their doubles campaign on Tuesday). Monaco has been dealing with various injuries, but he picked up his first win of the year on Friday by overcoming Florian Mayer in a four-set Davis Cup rubber at home in Argentina. Among the other contenders in the bottom half are Albert Ramos, Carlos Berlocq, Andrey Kuznetsov, and Filippo Volandri.
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