Rafa Roundup: Nadal goes for his second Rio Open title

Photo via Gustavo Kuerten Instagram
Photo via Gustavo Kuerten Instagram

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It was the first time we had the chance to enjoy the Rio Carnaval and it has been an unforgettable experience,” said Nadal. “There was unbelievable positive energy [from] everyone. Everyone was singing and dancing; it was fantastic for me to have the chance to enjoy this unique experience.

Can anyone throw a wrench in Nadal’s plans? He has an interesting first-rounder, against Brazilian native Thomaz Bellucci; he’s a local, he’s a lefty, and Rafa has had his troubles against lefties of late. But that might be the most trouble he has in Rio, at least until the final. The next three seeds are David Ferrer, Tommy Robredo, and Fabio Fognini. The 32-draw in Rio includes eight Spaniards, not including Nadal. I don’t know Rafa’s exact record against his countrymen for his career, but I know it’s pretty good.

Contra los males y las dudas, Nadal vuelve a su primer amor. Atrás quedaron los tiempos de inviernos sobre cemento, cuando construyó la transición de especialista en arcilla a tenista multipista. El cambio sigue una lógica aplastante. Reencontrarse en donde manda con más facilidad, crecer donde nació. Nadal siembra desde ahora para intentar recoger la cosecha en verano: París y Roland Garros aparecen mil veces subrayados en su calendario.

AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo
AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo

A loss to a Top 10 player on the Australian Open’s hard courts can be shrugged off for a variety of reasons. But I suspect even Nadal would say his expectations are higher on clay. This is a tournament he should dominate.

“I start the tournament from the first round… the conditions will be extreme; players are dangerous. The first round will be tough with any opponent.” … “I’m feeling well physically… I don’t know if I’m ready to win here. I’m going to try to be ready for Tuesday – to be competitive; to have good chances – and after that we’ll see what’s going on.”

For us players who speak Spanish and other Latin languages, we feel at home. And Latin America understands and is passionate about sport. The fans’ support is something special. I have to thank the Brazilian fans. In 2005, they helped me a lot in Costa do Sauípe. The same in São Paulo in 2013 and last year here in Rio, when I came here in a difficult time for me. It’s fantastic. I hope to come again for many more years.”

The King of Clay also batted away concerns about his fitness: “I don’t feel like my body is the enemy. My body has helped me a lot in my career, allowing me to get where I’ve got to, and I’m confident it will keep holding up for as long as possible so that I can continue competing and be in the condition to do my thing. If you’re not right physically that’s impossible, because you don’t have the consistency or confidence you need to compete”, he added.

Nadal is making his fourth career Brazilian tournament appearance (14-0 record) on the ATP World Tour, winning titles in Costa do Sauipe in 2005 (d. A. Martin), Sao Paulo (d. Nalbandian) in 2013 and Rio last year (d. Dolgopolov).

PHOTOS:

VIDEOS:

Reminder: Nadal vs. Bellucci – What time does Rafa play? / A que hora juega Rafa en tu país?

4 comments

  1. Looking relaxed and happy in Rio. The best of luck and good health. Continue to wear those bright colours in Rio! No tournament has been the same without your participation!!😎👍🏆❤️👑

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