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Nadal Ready to Face "Extreme" Heat in Rio

Defending Rio Open champion Rafael Nadal says he's ready to deal with what he called "extreme" heat at the upcoming clay court event in Brazil.

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With temperatures expected to soar over 100F during the week, how Nadal handles the heat could be key to his chances next week.

"I think this heat would affect anybody," Nadal said per the AP. "It's very difficult with these conditions. The conditions are extreme, with high humidity on top of that. If it doesn't cool off, I'll suffer and try to survive any way I can."

The Spanish star also revealed during a pre-event press conference that he's feeling much better physically than when he competed at the ATP 500 event last year.

Still, questions remain as to how Nadal will fare this week. Nadal enters the event having lost to Tomas Berdych in the Australian Open quarterfinals last month after having beaten the Czech 17 times in a row previously.

While Nadal admitted his physical style of tennis is what has helped him win 14 Grand Slam titles, it has also played a part in his various injuries over the years.

"The physical side has helped me during my entire career," Nadal said. "The physical part has been what has helped me get where I am and have the career I have had…If I'm not well physically, it's impossible to aspire to big things. I need to have confidence in my body and my tennis to compete."

Despite his impressive clay court record, Nadal downplayed his chances to repeat as champion.

"I don't know if I'm ready to win here or not," he said. "I'm going to try to be ready for Tuesday and be competitive, and then we'll see what's going on. It's my first tournament on clay after a long time, and always you need time to adapt."