Williams hails Nadal return as she eyes No1 spot in Doha
Rafael Nadal may have failed to make a winning return to the ATP Tour, but Serena Williams is just glad to see the Spaniard back on a tennis court.
The Spaniard was the denied the Chile Open title on his comeback from a seven-month injury layoff as he crashed to a 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 defeat to world No73 Horacio Zeballos on Sunday.
Despite it being Nadal's first tournament since his shock second-round exit at Wimbledon last June, the loss still came as a shock as the 26-year-old had only ever lost to two men - Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic - in clay court finals.
Williams, gearing up for her return to Doha this week in the Qatar Ladies Masters, is just delighted to see Nadal back fit and believes his presence was missed in 2012.
"It's good. I think he was really missed in tennis. He has such great energy. He's just really awesome to watch, so I think he was missed a lot," said Williams.
The American has never tasted success in Doha, but will have extra motivation to do so this year as the world No1 ranking, currently held by Victoria Azarenka, is up for grabs.
Williams is only 355 ranking points behind the Belarusian, who won the Australian Open last month, but can leapfrog her with the 900 points awarded to the winner.
The 15-time Grand Slam winner has not occupied top spot for more than two-and-a-half years after a series of injuries blighted 2010 and 2011 and saw her written off as a spent force.
But having bounced back in style to silence her doubters, winning Wimbledon, Olympic, US Open and WTA Championship season-end titles, she's now keen to return to the pinnacle of the women's game.
"It will be great. I think it will be a great feeling. I obviously want it, but it's not the only thing I want. So if it happens, great. If not, I won't miss anything," she said.
Williams is seeded second and could face a mouth-watering semi-final against Maria Sharapova, the French Open champion who can also claim the No1 spot with victory this week.
But the Russian, who become the first women to secure a hat-trick of titles in Doha after her successes in 2005 and 2008, is not allowing the prospect to enter her thinking.
Well, I think it certainly makes for an exciting storyline, but from a personal perspective the further you go in the week, the better chance you give yourself to regain that ranking. So I think that all of us will be focusing on just one step at a time," she said.
It also, you obviously depends on other players' results, so it's tough to really focus on that too much."
If that wasn't enough Sharapova will also the added incentive this week of the Diamond Ball trophy which she will be awarded if she becomes the first three-time winner of the event.
"That certainly would be nice. You know, I don't think I have a trophy with diamonds on it. I have a few that are gold and silver but not diamonds, so that would be new and very special."