Fit-again Rafael Nadal says IPTL forms part of his early buildup for next season
Rafael Nadal won both his sets for the India Aces on Monday. Jerome Ascano

NOTHING was going to stop Rafael Nadal from playing in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) this season after missing out in in its inaugural year.

And where better to make his anticipated debut than in Manila?

After an appendix surgery forced him to skip last year’s edition, the Spanish tennis star made his debut on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena where led the Indian Aces in their rout of the UAE Royals.

“I’m very happy to be here,” Nadal said. “The people are so friendly and I really hope to come back in the future.”

“The crowd was unreal,” added the clay-court king, who drew the loudest cheers from the crowd.

Despite having a loaded schedule this year, Nadal was still eager to participate in the innovative competition that brings together the sport’s biggest stars, both past and current.

“I didn’t have many holidays this year, but I’d be at home, practicing anyway if I wasn’t here,” he said. “I have a chance to be here with my colleagues and friends, having a team supporting me and the possibility to keep practicing with very good players and at the same time compete a little bit.”

“So for me, it’s perfect,” he added. “It’s like preparation for next year and at the same time, we’re able to play in places where we don’t play often. That’s very important to promote our sport.”

Nadal, the former world No. 1 netter who has been slowed down by injuries, showed his pedigree on Monday as he prevailed in his two sets, in the men’s doubles and the men’s singles.

Waiting for him for the post-match press conference even took longer than how long it took for him to finish his two sets.

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He hopes to be back in the Philippines, not only for work, but for fun as well.

“I know I have to visit the islands too and I hope to do it in a couple of years,” Nadal said with a smile.

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