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Rafael Nadal turns small tournament into big deal
Question of the Day
Nadal is reported to have received hefty appearance money to play in Chile, though tournament officials have not confirmed it. The venue is not ideal for a comeback. The tournament site _ Club Las Salinas _ is located within view of the ocean and is traditionally windy and often chilly.
Nadal fills a need in Chile. Its longtime top player, Fernando Gonzalez, retired last year, leaving the country without a star. Paul Capdeville is the country’s highest ranked player at No. 153, and he failed to qualify for the tournament. That leaves only two Chileans in the field _ No. 577 Nicolas Massu and Christian Garin, ranked 923rd.
“For the tournament, Nadal being here is unbelievable,” said German player Dustin Brown. “And it’s great for the players, as long as you don’t have to play Nadal.”
Jaquelina Frez and her daughter, Dalal Chahuan, drove 30 miles from the nearby town of La Calera to watch practice. They will skip the tournament, partly because of high ticket prices.
“I know the prices have gone up from other years,” Frez said.
Her 17-year-old daughter is an accomplished amateur player, and she raced to the court exit after practice to snap a photo.
“He’s a celebrity, and you want to see him if you like tennis, or don’t like tennis,” Dalal said. “He brings attention to the area and excitement to the fans.”
Not to mention a boost to some local bank accounts.
Follow Stephen Wade at http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP
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