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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, December 28, 2022


"The main thing for me at the moment is to recover the good feelings on court, to be competitive," Rafael Nadal told the media in Sydney.

Photo credit: Getty/Tennis Australia

Rafael Nadal will be shouldering more than his Babolat racquet bag when he steps on court for the United Cup this week.

The 22-time Grand Slam king will be carrying "huge motivation" for a strong start ahead of his Australian Open title defense.

More: Nadal Rises in Emotional 2022

Nadal met the media in Sydney today prior to his United Cup opener vs. Great Britain's Cameron Norrie. The reigning Australian Open and Roland Garros champion said the goal for this inaugural United Cup is to find his comfort level and competitiveness.

Tennis Express

"Without thinking about how many seasons I have been on the circuit, the beginnings are always different," Nadal said. "I have a huge motivation to start well. The last few months have not been easy for me.

"I'm just trying to do the right workouts before the tournament starts. Of course, I will try to help the team. The main thing for me at the moment is to recover the good feelings on track, to be competitive. I'm prepared for it to happen, but we'll see."

Unleashing the warrior within last January, Nadal delivered the comeback of his career battling by Daniil Medvedev 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 to capture a men’s record 21st Grand Slam title in an epic and astounding Australian Open final.

Today, Nadal spent time training on Ken Rosewall Arena court in Sydney. Nadal leads a Spanish squad that features Paula Badosa, Pablo Carreño Busta, Nuria Párrizas, Albert Ramos, David Vega and Jessica Bouzas. Spain resides in Group D alongside host Australia and Great Britain.

Australia stars Alex de Minaur, Ajla Tomljanovic, Jason Kubler and Maddison Inglis and is without Nick Kyrgios, who withdrew. Cameron Norrie, Daniel Evans, Harriet Dart and Katie Swan lead Britain.

The Australian Open starts January 16th and will mark the return of nine-time AO champion Novak Djokovic, who was bounced out of the nation last year, and is back this month to try to regain his crown.

Asked if this may be his last appearance in Australia, the 36-year-old Spanish superstar offered optimistic and realistic response.

"I hope not, when you reach a certain age you never know when the last one will be," Nadal said. "It's obvious, but I don't like to talk about it right now. I will concentrate on playing at the highest possible level to give myself the possibility to be competitive, to fight for everything.

"That's my goal now. I'm not thinking about what my last time here will be. Let's try to enjoy it, to create something special. I'm happy doing what I do."


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