Rafael Nadal walks into Melbourne this year, short on match practice but high on confidence after a stellar 2017.
Nadal’s resurgence on the circuit last year was no less than a fairy tale, with the seasoned Mallorcan ringing back the years with his all court play and grit on the court all through 2017.
For fans it was a treat, and for Nadal it was another opportunity to enjoy the game that he loves.
The love lingers on, and Nadal wants it to last for as long as it can, because that is Nadal’s primary motivation for playing the game of Tennis.
Nadal spoke about how he is always motivated to play any tournament he enrolls himself into, because if that’s not the case, then the love for the sport is on the decline
“It’s impossible to be more motivated than last year or any year,” Nadal said.
“For me, the Australian Open … if you are not enough motivated, 100 percent motivated to play this tournament, probably you don’t love this sport.” Nadal added.
Nadal comes into the Australian Open without his Uncle Toni in his coaching staff, in what is a first for Nadal in his career.
However, Nadal is excited to embark on this new journey and is honoured to have Carlos Moya in his coaching staff.
“It’s my first tournament that he is not my official coach. But I played plenty of tournaments in my career without Toni,” Nadal said.
“[It] is a change in my career, but let’s wait a little bit… [to see] if I feel strange in a few months, but now is just the beginning,” he added.
“I feel happy with my team. Toni gave me a lot during all my career, as I said thousands of times. I don’t think it’s necessary to repeat again and again. Without Toni, I probably won’t be here today. That’s the real thing. I can’t thank him enough for everything.
“I’m happy with the way that I am working with Carlos [Moya], with Francis [Roig], with the rest of my team. Let’s keep working hard to try to have a good year.” the Mallorcan said.
With respect to the firsts that Nadal has experienced in the past few months, one that also adds up is the fact that he has come into the Australian Open without any match practice this year.
But he did have some ‘match like practice’ with Domnic Thiem a few days back.
We decided to play another match. Talking with the Australian Open, yeah, they give us the chance to play like an open practice but closer to the match for the crowd,” said Nadal.
“I have a good relationship with Dominic. I spoke to him about that. He was very happy to make that happen, too. We did it. It was a good practice, good feelings for both of us I think. The job was done the right way.” he added.
Nadal will take on Estrella Burgos in the first round of the Australian Open.