World No. 1 Rafael Nadal (Profile) returns to Paris for the first time in four years and will meet fellow countryman Marcel Granollers (Profile) in the second round of the BNP Paribas Masters 2013. This marks the third time these two Spaniards meet on the professional circuit, with Nadal leading the series 2-0.
Rafa is coming off back-to-back tournament losses: the finals of the Beijing tournament, where he lost to Novak Djokovic after usurping his no. 1 ranking, and in the Shanghai Masters semi-final, where he lost an entertaining battle to World no. 5 Juan Martin Del Potro. While he may have dropped his focus ever-so-slightly, it is only because he is at the tail-end of arguably one of the greatest comeback seasons in the history of the sport. Coming back from a career-threatening knee injury, Rafa claimed two of the four Grand Slam titles this year (French Open and the US Open), as well as a record-tying five Masters 1000 titles to boost him back in the No. 1 spot.
Following the slight hiccup over the past couple of weeks, Nadal withdrew from the Basel Open last week to rest and recuperate and is now motivated to produce his best tennis at the Paris Masters, a tournament he has not taken part in since 2009.
“I’m excited to be back in Paris. Paris is a very special city for me.” said Nadal. “Probably the most special city in the world. It’s a great tournament. I haven’t had the chance to be here for different [reasons] for the past four years, so I am very happy and excited to be back.”
Marcel Granollers defeated Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the second round here in Paris and he will now face the intimidating task of toppling World no. 1 Nadal. Prior to his win yesterday, the Spaniard reached the second round in Valencia before losing to Fabio Fognini. He has compiled a 27-23 record this season and a 1-6 record against top 10 players. He will also be participating in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals with partner Marc Lopez.
Nadal and Granollers have met on two previous occasions, both in 2012. In both contests, Nadal thoroughly dominated both contests, losing only five games in each of the matches. The countrymen will meet for a third time and the second time in a Masters hard court tournament. The world No. 1 will likely control the match in similar fahsion to their previous encounter and earn easy access to the third round in Paris.