Saturday, 15 January 2011
Rafael Nadal - Living in the present
It was a moment of lightheartedness from the world No.1, who appeared relaxed despite finding himself on the brink of making personal history. He won Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open on the bounce last year to create the potential of what is fast becoming known as the "Rafa Slam" of holding all four major titles at once. It would be a significant career milestone but Nadal says the thought of winning a second Australian Open title is more than enough to motivate him.
"I think if that's happen, for sure for me I'm going to be more happy to win in Australia because is the Australian Open more than is because the fourth in a row. That's hundred percent true," he said.
2010 was a year of outstanding achievement for Nadal and by the end of the season he had not just taken Roger Federer's No.1 ranking, but had begun to look as though he might end up rivalling the Swiss as the acknowledged greatest player of all time. It is hard to believe that 12 months ago there were justifiable doubts hanging over Nadal's long-term fitness and whether the knee problems which have dogged his career might end it prematurely. He returns to Melbourne Park with nine grand slam titles to his name (at the age of 24) and with history apparently now just a handful of forehands away.
Nadal did not want to talk about the year gone by. After a short off-season break, he is very much living in the present. "For sure it is the beginning," he said. "We're in 2011. 2010 is past. For me is the beginning for sure, no? I didn't stop. But this year everything starts another time. So I'm very happy to be here in Australia another time. It is always very good news to be here."
Thankfully, the Spaniard appears to have shaken off the illness which hit him during his first tournament of the year in Qatar and which prompted fears of a setback to his Australian Open preparations. "I'm feeling better. I think not perfect yet. But, yeah, seems like after what I had in Doha, when I practicing, I feel a little bit more tired than usual and sweating more than ever. But the truth is I'm better than few days ago. So that's very positive."