Rafa Roundup: Back to business

Photo by Nida Alibhai

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Despite playing only 13 events – four less than even Roger Federer – Nadal still finished No. 2 in the ATP Rankings, backed by – alert: you’ve heard this before – his record-setting clay-court season, which featured four of his five titles, including his 11th Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell and Roland Garros titles.

If Nadal can, yet again, produce a historic European clay-court swing in 2019, expect him to earn another Top 3 finish.

“I started two weeks ago and of course doing the things step by step and I think I have time to be ready for Melbourne [Australian Open] at my 100 per cent,” Nadal told reporters in the UAE capital on Thursday.

“It’s going to be good to have some matches before but I’m confident that I’m going to arrive to Melbourne with the right situation.”

“Abu Dhabi is one of my favorite places to play,” said Nadal, already a four-time champion at the event. “The climate, atmosphere and enthusiasm from the crowds in Abu Dhabi provides the perfect start to the new season. The tournament brings together players at the top of their game.”

The Spaniard is set to make his first appearance since his US Open semi-final retirement against Juan Marti del Potro in the UAE capital this weekend, opening his campaign against either Kevin Anderson or Chung Hyeon on Friday.

Once again, one of the biggest challenges facing Nadal in 2019 will be his fitness. His issues this year didn’t stop him from winning a 17th major last June though, where he picked up a record-extending 11th French Open crown.

Soon, pictures of one of the world’s greatest tennis players, covered in mud and sweeping the streets with a broom, went around the world.

“The next day, we went on court and after 10 minutes, I said ‘Guys, I can’t practice.'” he recalled about that day. “I came back, and I was here with the friends and after that, we decided to go there. That’s all.”

Nadal also opened up his academy to victims of the flash floods who were in need of shelter and this week he donated one million euros ($1.1 million) to the victims of the disaster.

PHOTOS: Rafa has arrived in Abu Dhabi

VIDEOS:

  • RAFAEL NADAL: 2018 ATP Highlight Reel | TennisTV
  • Rafael Nadal confident he’ll be 100% ready for Melbourne | Sport 360
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15 comments

  1. When I read that article before it was posted here in which Rafa is quoted as having said “…I think I have time to be ready for Melbourne” I wasn’t feeling too good. But then, Rafa went on to say “…I’m confident that I’m going to arrive to Melbourne with the right situation.” That word alone, confident, put a smile on my face. Feeling much better about his prospects for 2019. When does he say he is “confident”? Rafa continues his evolution.

    RAFA IS ROCKING CONFIDENCE

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  2. Wow, I am sooooo excited to hear Rafa is back. So glad his team is approaching 2019 with more
    caution in order to limit potential injuries. We fans always want Rafa at 100%. Glad to hear Rafa was patient with his recovery and enjoyed down time with his girlfriend, family and friends. All of us fans missed him so much. I watched some epic Rafa repeat matches of 2018 until the new season starts. Wishing Rafa and his team all the best. Can’t wait to see Rafa on court!

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    • Rafa is playing the afternoon match which is at 4pm local time. It is 8am est, but I have not found it on TV yet. There is a betting site that shows it, but I have not had any luck with them. Does anyone know more?

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      • va4favre, the only info I found is from Spanish Eurosport; Rafa’s match on Friday can be seen on TV on Teledeporte, and online on rtve.es.

        I could not find anything in English. I don’t know if Fubo will live stream. Maybe some other English language live streaming company will cover it.

        It’s possible Abu Dhabi wants Rafa all to itself. I don’t recall it being televised last year. You?

        Good luck.

        RAFA ROCKS

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      • I also tried in French. I found one sentence which announced he would play Mubadala. Nothing.

        I did come across this though: Spain will host the 2019 and 2020 Davis Cup Finals. This should help fill the coffers of Spanish tennis. I wonder if he is easing into retirement to announce his dive into politics. Just thinking.

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      • I am still searching for a live stream for Rafa’s match. It is not on ESPN or WatchESPN. I have checked all the sites with no luck. YouTube is showing the highlights from yesterday’s matches. I know one of the betting sites has it, but I have not had any luck with them.

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    • Happy New Year Fellow Rafans! It seems forever since we last saw Rafa play. I have no expectations for 2019, but hope Rafa can be uninjured. That would be enough for me. Tennis is so much less interesting without him. I am encouraged with his comments on how well he is practicing.

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