As the major sponsor of Australian Open 2018, Kia Motors handed over the Kia Fleet of official tournament vehicles with Rafael Nadal and Lleyton Hewitt.
After demolishing French No. 18 Lucas Pouille 10-1, Rafael Nadal had to save a match point to defeat Lleyton Hewitt in a wild 13-11 tiebreak.
The final against Tomas Berdych was tight early on before the sweet-swinging Czech overpowered Rafa in the latter stages of the match, a perfectly executed wide serve followed up by a volley to the open court establishing a 6-3 lead that Rafa was unable to pull back. Rafa saved one match point at 9-4 but a double-handed backhand on the next point sailed just wide for Berdych to claim the win at the Tie Break Tens tournament in Melbourne.
Rafa’s court coverage and powerful ground strokes look ready for another lengthy Melbourne Park campaign when the year’s first Grand Slam commences on Monday.
Lleyton Hewitt 10-6 Novak Djokovic
Lucas Pouille 1-10 Rafael Nadal
Tomas Berdych 10-8 Nick Kyrgios
Milos Raonic 10-7 Dominic Thiem
Lleyton Hewitt 11-13 Rafael Nadal
Tomas Berdych 11-9 Milos Raonic
Rafael Nadal 5-10 Tomas Berdych
(AAP) – Rafael Nadal appears to have passed his Australian Open fitness test with flying colours despite losing his practice match at the Kooyong Classic.
The world No.1 fell to Richard Gasquet 6-4 7-5 in their exhibition match in Melbourne on Tuesday but, more importantly, Rafa looked to be moving freely on his troublesome knee.
It was a good test for me and good practice.
I’m good and I am here so that’s good news and my idea is just to keep practicing the next couple of days to be ready for the beginning of the Australian Open.
It was a long year last year so I started my preparation a little bit later than usual. It’s good to start having the feelings of playing a match even if it’s not official.
It was Rafa’s first match in almost three months and first since withdrawing from the ATP Tour Finals in mid-November after an opening three-set loss to David Goffin.
He downplayed any concerns about his knee, saying:
If I’m not feeling good, probably I will not be here. So that’s the good news.
Rafa looked rusty with some erratic forehands but it was a big step forward as he targets a second Australian Open title. He trailed Gasquet 3-0 in the second set after going down a double break but clawed his way back to lead 5-4 only to lose his serve again.
There is exactly one week left for players to polish their tennis game before Australian Open starts next Monday.
We still don’t have any update on Rafael Nadal’s state of a knee injury, but from today’s photos we can see that his main problem these days are blisters all over the hands. With physio Rafael Maymo in Rafa’s team, we are sure they’ll find a way to fix it so that our champ can play as usual.
Here are some photos from today’s practice.
A few photos from Rafael Nadal’s Saturday practice.
At first, I thought these photos are taken during Rafa’s yesterday’s practice session but the Getty Images captions showed they are taken earlier today. Also, when you look better you’ll see Rafa is wearing white shorts today.
But one thing is certain – it’s so damn hot Down Under.