14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal made a successful comeback from the sidelines on Thursday afternoon when he defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in three sets during an exhibition match in Kazakhstan.
Playing in front of a full crown in Astana, the world No. 2 came from a set down to beat Tsonga 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-4 in a match that featured the laughter and trickery characteristic of exhibition matches.
Following his exo match, the Spaniard traveled to Beijing, where he informed the media that he is “much better” and motivated to make up for lost time.
“I am fine,” said Nadal. “I am much better. The thing is the injury, the evolution of the injury, was a bit slow and took a little bit of time. But that’s it. I just feel the wrist a little bit when I am starting, when I start to play every day, but then it disappears. I’m in good conditions to compete again.”
Nadal has not taken part in a single match since his fourth round loss to Nick Kyrgios at the Wimbledon Championships. He sacrificed 6000 ranking points when he withdrew from title defenses in Toronto, Cincinnati and the US Open.
“My motivation is always high. I am coming here to Beijing for a big tournament,” Nadal added. “The best players are here. I try my best always. It’s not because I’m coming back from an injury. This part of the season has always been a little bit difficult for me, and will be for sure even more this year after stopping for three months at the middle of the season. That was really bad news for me.
“But the last part of the season remains. I am going to try to be ready for it. I don’t know in which condition I am going to be in, in terms of tennis, in these two tournaments, but I hope to practise and play as much as possible to be in rhythm again.”
Nadal is scheduled to begin his 2014 campaign in Beijing against France’s Richard Gasquet, whom he holds a 12-0 record against.