After the season Rafael Nadal has produced this year, it would be hard to find anyone who wouldn’t want the Spaniard playing for their town as part of the AO Blitz.
Nadal this week completed a stunning return from a debilitating knee injury by reclaiming the world No.1 ranking, an astonishing feat given the ailment had sidelined him for seven months after Wimbledon in 2012.
But since the brutally-powerful left-hander made his tour comeback in February, he has barely put a foot wrong.
His statistics of 2013 are extraordinary; in the 14 tournaments he has contested, he has reached the final of 13, and won 10, including the French and US Opens to take his major tally to 13. With a stratospheric win-loss record of 65-4, he’s already accrued almost $11 million in prize money, and has won three of his five battles with arch-rival Novak Djokovic, the man he replaced at No.1.
So how can you get Nadal playing for your town at Australian Open 2014?
It’s easy – the more points you earn by completing challenges, the more points you earn for your nominated town. And the higher your town finishes on the leader-board, the more chance it will have of being represented by a highly seeded player. The top two towns on the leader-board will flip a coin to see which one scores the top-seeded male player, or the top-seeded female.
Your town could be associated with Nadal at Australian Open 2014; giant information screens around Melbourne Park, plus scheduling signage, would feature his name, nationality and the Australian town he’s ‘playing for’.
It’s a pretty exciting concept, especially when you consider the prizes on offer. If your representative player wins the men’s or women’s Australian Open singles title, your town will be treated to an AO Blitz party for the entire community, and a whole host of other prizes.
And surveying the field for the upcoming Australian Open, few players will arrive at Melbourne Park in better form or with higher confidence than the Spaniard.
Nadal has already shown that he can conquer the blue Plexicushion; he hoisted the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup back in 2009 with a five-set victory over Roger Federer in an epic final. He also reached the title match in 2012, coming within a handful of points of adding to his trophy cabinet before Djokovic squeezed out victory in the longest-ever Grand Slam final.
Nadal missed the 2013 edition of the Australian Open due to his patellar tendonitis, and will be especially hungry to make up for that missed opportunity when he heads to Melbourne in January. That won’t be of comfort to his rivals, who already know that Nadal is one of the fittest and strongest players on the tour, perfectly adept at handling the often brutal heat of the Australian summer.
And although hard courts were once considered Nadal’s Kryptonite – hard on his knees and not as conducive to his gritty style of play as clay – the world No.1 flourished on the surface in 2013, going an exceptional 26-1 on the surface. It bodes well for success at the year’s first Grand Slam event.
Nadal will be highly sought as a player to represent any town. And by registering for the AO Blitz and completing as many challenges as you can, you'll increase your chances of having him competing for your town at Australian Open 2014.