Australian Open Title Defence Excites Rafael Nadal

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Spanish tennis legend Rafael Nadal ended his season on a high after a difficult few months and said he was excited about the prospect of defending his Australian Open title in January 2023.

Nadal, 36, produced some vintage tennis to beat Casper Ruud 7-5 7-5 in his final group match at the ATP Finals and he was happy with his level. The Spaniard had looked rusty against Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger-Aliassime in his previous matches at the Turin ATP tournament, but was too good for  Ruud, snapping a four-match losing streak.

The Spaniard is now likely to end the year ranked number two but after injury worries and hardly playing since the US Open, he was just happy to be firing on all cylinders again.

Rafael Nadal

“I can’t talk for everyone but in my case, if I am in the rhythm of competition, winning matches, in a good confidence, normally I don’t have a big problem to be competitive in every single court or surface,” Nadal told reporters.

“Australia’s going to be a challenge, of course, but it’s the beginning of the season. Hard court, I played well plenty of times there, even if I only won twice.”

Nadal will have to get past nine-time champion Novak Djokovic if he is to win again in Melbourne, after the Serb confirmed he has a visa and will be at the Australian Open to compete.

“That’s the best news possible, especially knowing that now the virus (COVID-19) is more under control, around the world,” Nadal added.

“Happy for him. Happy for the tournament. Happy for the fans. That’s it.”

Djokovic was deported before this year’s Australian Open after failing to have a COVID-19 vaccination.

 

Chidi Nwoke/Reuters.