Rafael Nadal: ‘Cleaning and polishing my boots…’

Despite many setbacks, Rafael Nadal concluded the 2004 season in glory, defeating world no. 2, Andy Roddick, in the Davis Cup final in Seville and becoming the youngest player with a win in the final of the outstanding team competition. Starting the following season just outside the top 50, Nadal lost in the quarterfinals in Doha to Ivan Ljubicic and retired in the first match in Auckland, with minor respiratory problems and hoping to play safely in the first Major of the season. season in Melbourne. The youngster made a great start against Julien Benneteau before surviving a stern test from Mikhail Youzhny in five sets to enter the last 32. Bobby Reynolds couldn’t do much against the most promising youngster in the world, who dropped just five games and sealed the deal in the 90th minute to conserve energy for the much-anticipated clash with Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round at Rod Laver Arena. The Australian beat the Spaniard in 2004 after winning two tie-breaks, and worked even harder on this one, scoring a 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 7-6, 6-2 triumph in three hours and 53 minutes. Hewitt won just two points more than Nadal, who held a massive lead in sets two and three, motivated to show his best tennis in the deepest Majors run to that point. In the end, Lleyton survived all challenges in the fourth set to secure it in the tie break, leaving the youngster with nothing in the tank in the decider. Rafa took five breaks and Lleyton responded with six, delivering the best tennis of his in the tie break where he had no room for error and using that momentum to race through a decider and leave a teenager empty-handed.

Rafa will play at Flushing Meadows

Rafael Nadal, while speaking about coping with the pressure and uneasiness before a high-profile match, opened up about a bad habit of his. Nadal, after explaining how cleaning and polishing his boots and arranging his equipment help him calm his nerves, admitted, “My mother and sister, chuckle when they remember this. Because they say that when it comes to sport, I am disciplined and orderly person. But in everything else, I am distracted and chaotic. They are right. My room at home is always a mess. My hotel room when I am travelling too and I often forget things,” he added. Nadal now, after taking weeks of much-deserved rest, is all set for the upcoming hard-court season.