6 best athletes in the world for the week 11 April - 18 April
Nadal staged a comeback, and a gymnast made Indian history. Here are our 6 best athletes for the week.
As part of our ongoing series, we pick the five athletes who put in standout performances in the past week, plus one bonus winner:
Former World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, struggling with a title drought and a long dry spell without much success, had declared in 2015 that 2016 would be his ‘comeback year’. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, the most successful clay court player in the history of the game, he began his year with a first-round exit at the Australian Open – his earliest ever finish at a Grand Slam.
But playing this week at the Monte Carlo Masters on his pet surface, clay, Nadal was in his element. He faced a slew of tennis’ best – amongst them up-and-coming star Dominic Thiem, who has given the best in the sport a bit of trouble.
The 22-year-old Austrian even taxed Nadal in the first set of their match and somewhat taxed his rival, but Nadal came back to win in straight sets, subsequently demolishing World No. 4 Stan Wawrinka en route to setting up a semi-final clash and defeating 2nd-ranked Andy Murray.
Troubled by French Gael Monfils in the final, Nadal returned with a vengeance to bagel him in the final set in what was his 100th ATP final and 28th Masters title, which saw him equal Novak Djokovic.
The Spaniard all but announced his return on clay ahead of the all-important French Open, and that makes him one of our athletes of the week.