Rafael Nadal: ‘I didn’t play that bad the first two matches the year’

Rafael Nadal is always one of the top favourites, regardless of the tournament he enters. The Spaniard has earned that recognition by holding No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for more than 200 weeks, claiming 36 ATP Masters 1000 trophies and 22 Grand Slam titles. But the 36-year-old enters the Australian Open on a losing streak, having lost six of his last seven matches. In addition, it is the first time since 2015 that he begins his participation in Melbourne Park with a negative record (0-2) in the season. Does he feel vulnerable before debuting? “Of course. Yes, without a doubt,” Nadal said this Saturday at a press conference. “I’ve been losing more than usual, so that’s part of the business. I think I am humble enough to accept this situation and just work with what I have today. I need to build again all this momentum. I need to build this confidence in myself again with victories.” But even though he hasn’t won as much as he would have liked lately, Nadal is also aware that he shouldn’t criticize himself too much. Of his last six losses, two have come at the Nitto ATP Finals, and the lowest-ranked player he lost to was then World No.31 in the world Tommy Paul at the Rolex Paris Masters. “I didn’t play so badly the first two games of the year. I lost against two great rivals, but I had very positive chances of winning both games. I’ve been here for three weeks now, training every day in those conditions, with the best players. That helps a lot in general terms.” Nadal explained that he now feels better with his game than when he arrived in Australia. In his first event of the year in the United Cup, Nadal fell in the third set against Cameron Norrie and Álex de Miñaur.

Nadal is happy with his level of tennis

Rafael Nadal is back where he experienced one of the most special moments of his illustrious career just a year ago. “What happen last year is, yeah, going to stays in my heart and my memory forever,” Nadal expressed in a press conference ahead of the 2023 Australian Open. “One of the most emotional victories of my tennis career, without a doubt. A lot of emotions coming back from a long injury.” Nadal is happy with the level of tennis he displayed in both matches. “By the way, I didn’t play that bad the first two matches the year. I lost against two great opponents, but having very positive chances to win both matches,” he said on the same.