- ATP Tour
Nadal to return armed with a new racket
Rafael Nadal will return to action in Chile next month armed with a new racket that will be "a nightmare for rivals".
Nadal has not been seen in competitive action since his shock loss at Wimbledon last summer, with a knee injury causing real concern to the Spaniard and his camp.
He had planned to return ahead of the Australian Open, but a virus halted his progress and his focus is now on being fit and firing for the European clay court season.
There has been widespread speculation as to whether Nadal will be able to return to the top of the game, but he is clearly focused on fighting for titles as he has taken the decision to ditch the racket he has used since the age of 12 in favour of a new model.
Babolat manufacture the Spaniard's rackets and they claim it was on the advice of his coach, Toni Nadal, that he made the switch.
"Uncle Toni put pressure on Rafa to change. If you want to be better, you have to take risks," Eric Babolat, the owner of the firm that makes Nadal's rackets, told DPA.
Babolat added that Nadal's quest for more action on the ball prompted the switch. He said:"More top spin, he already has a lot of that but he wants more."