Australian Open 2023: Nadal: “I didn’t come here to walk around” | Sports

Absolutely clear sky in Melbourne, close to thirty degrees of heat when noon has not yet been reached and a lot of calm in the city, the same one that Rafael Nadal transmits in his first appearance before journalists in this edition of the Australian Open that begins Monday. He will do it with him in front, as the first seed and defender of the title obtained last year, when he marveled with that unlikely comeback against the Russian Daniil Medvedev. A year later, he leaves for the pole position and in a less hostile situation than then, although filming is still lacking and a double and uncomfortable nuance appears on the horizon: the first is Novak Djokovic, back, and the second is the British Jack Draper, his rival at the station tournament start.

“That the first round is one of the worst that could touch me? It is a reality, but one has to live with what there is and with what one has”, introduces the man from Manacor, distrustful of the potential of an upstart who has been stomping and warning, installed at 21 in 40th place in the ranking. ranking and eager to go. “I play against a young and powerful guy, who is growing very, very fast and playing well. He has a great career ahead of him. I’ve seen him a couple of times and I trust I’ll be ready, we’ll see what can happen”, he warns two days before its premiere, with no time to waste because he needs to continue accumulating good feelings after half a year in fits and starts and without continuity, with barely a couple of preparatory games in the legs before jumping to the Australian center with questions to clear up.

“Confidence is gained by winning, but in the end, if you are better prepared it is easier to win. Tranquility, confidence and self-assurance, the fact that things come out on their own, is achieved with victories; Anyone who says otherwise is probably lying, ”he points out to fifty reporters; “But beyond the results, I think a great job has been done in the preparation and I’m happy with the preparation and with the fact that I was able to train for three weeks at a high level, with few physical problems; This has allowed me to do double sessions. What did I need to win a game to get here with more confidence? Without a doubt. It’s a reality, but I think I’m prepared to play well”.

Nadal transmits peace and tranquility, and explains that if he landed in Australia so early – he packed his bags on Christmas Day and traveled on December 26 – it is because “he wanted to make the effort to get to this tournament well, that is the priority now himself, and also make up for the days lost on the circuit” because “the preparation has been short” and “the last few months have been difficult”. Before, in the United Cup, he lost in Sydney against Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur, but he considers that “the base is good” and that if he manages to overcome the tough initial obstacle, he imagines himself reaching the high levels of the tournament again. .

Nadal, during the press conference this Saturday.
Nadal, during the press conference this Saturday.Mark Baker (AP)

“I think that this objective has been more than achieved and that to face the season, regardless of what may happen here, I am much better prepared than a month ago. I consider these weeks very positive and I think that if I am able to win the first game I will have my options, because my feelings tell me that I am playing at a good level”, underlines the 36-year-old Spaniard and currently number two in the world.

Nadal accepts his reality and his moment, erratic in the final stretch of last season and fought at the beginning of this one with victory. “I have certainly lost more than usual, but it is part of the business. I didn’t play so bad, they were two great rivals and I had my chances, ”he recalls. “This is part of the trip, but I am fine and happy. I may lose Monday, but it won’t be the end of the world. I feel faster with my legs, I’m training well and I’m confident, improving, so we’ll see”, he continues while sliding: “What happened last year is just a sample of what sometimes happens in the sport. If you feel good and gain confidence, you can change things and what sometimes seems impossible is no longer so. I am here to try, I have not come here to be for a walk ”.

During the intervention the name of Djokovic comes up, who returns after being sent off last year. The Serb, a major from behind, he has the option of reaching him and even taking number one from Carlos Alcaraz. However, he claims to be another story. The objective, remarks the Spaniard, is “what I can control” and that refers to “doing things in the best possible way” to try to defend the title on the 29th. “It seems that he [Nole] He has come very well prepared and has achieved great results; today, he is undoubtedly the top favorite to win the title, what happens is that you have to work and do well for two weeks. If he wins, he will have done something historic and that’s it, my life will not change, ”he resolves.

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