World No. 2 Rafael Nadal will kick-start his 2019 ATP Tour against the Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Brisbane, with the Spaniard returning back to competitive tennis after missing out the last part of the previous season.
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Nadal’s Pre-Season Preparations
Before arriving in Brisbane, Nadal participated in the Mubadala World Tennis Championships. Over there, he played only one match against the South African Kevin Anderson. It was a three-set affair that the Spaniard lost and thereafter, he withdrew from the tournament to take some rest before officially starting the new season.
Nadal had a pretty stellar spell in 2018, ending the season as the World No. 2 with five singles titles, including the French Open and the Italian Masters. The reigning ATP Barcelona champion could have just as easily finished the year as the No. 1, had it not been for his knee injury.
He faced knee problems in his semifinal encounter against Juan Martin Del Potro at the US Open. He finally retired in the second set and took rest of the season off to prepare for the 2019 ATP Tour. Nonetheless, he ended the year with a win-loss record of 45-4.
Tsonga’s Tryst with Injuries
2018 has been a highly disastrous year for Tsonga, mainly on account of his injuries. He picked up a left hamstring injury in Montpellier in February that year following which, he took the next couple of months off. He also underwent knee surgery in early April.
He returned to the circuit in September but he was way out of form. He participated in ATP Moselle, Antwerp, and Vienna where he failed to move past the early rounds.
He fell out of the top 50 for the first time since October 2007 and eventually ended the year as the World No. 239.
During the pre-match interviews in Brisbane, Tsonga remarked that he and Nadal are in the same situation with both of them returning from injuries. However, considering their recent form, the Spaniard has the upper hand.
Nadal v Tsonga Head to Head
Nadal and Tsonga have met each other no less than 12 times on the ATP Tour. Their last encounter took place in the semifinal of the Shanghai Masters, where it was Tsonga who won the match in three sets. That was the first time that the Frenchman registered a win over Nadal since 2011.
Overall, it is Nadal who leads 8-4 in the head to head tally.
Nadal v Tsonga – Who Will Win?
There is little doubt that Nadal is going to start this match as the overwhelming favorite to win. However, his early exit from the Mubadala Championships may present some concerns to the Spaniard. On the other hand, Tsonga is returning to the tour after taking some time off and appears to be particularly ready. This will be a litmus test for the two players and needless to mention, will be an entertaining affair.