Australian Open champ Rafael Nadal insists his title defence is on track

Defending Australian Open champ Rafael Nadal is adamant he’s in “good shape” ahead of next week’s grand slam despite a lacklustre start to 2023 and worries over his ageing body.

The 36-year-old, who snared his second Australian Open triumph last year 13 years after his first, lost both his United Cup matches in Sydney, including one to local Alex de Minaur.

Having battled injuries during 2022, including an abdominal injury that ruined the back half of his season, questions have been asked about Nadal’s fitness for his title defence.

But having already declared he wasn’t injured in Sydney, the 22-time grand slam winner is confident he will be back to his best at Melbourne Park.

“It’s true that the last couple of tournaments I wasn’t able to play my standards and here at the beginning of the season I lost two matches in Sydney, but honestly, I am not unhappy with the preparation,” Nadal said in Melbourne on Tuesday.

“I think I’m in good shape. You need to demonstrate that in matches … but I’m confident that if I am able to have this last week of positive practice, why not?”

Nadal conceded his victory last January, a comeback five-set win over Daniil Medvedev, was unexpected but still “one of the most important” of his career.

It also came before Nadal toppled four consecutive top-10 rivals en route to his 14th French Open crown, a signal of his capacity to take down the world’s best.

“Probably this one is one of the more unexpected ones. Very emotional,” he said.

“The final comeback is one of the most important in my career.”

Nadal has been practising daily in Melbourne since Spain was bundled out of the United Cup in Sydney and is scheduled to take on Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in match simulation on Friday night on Rod Laver Arena.

Now also a father, Nadal was confident his extra duties wouldn’t impact his on-court productivity.

“It‘s about adapting to this new part of my life in all ways,” he said.

“You need a little bit more of organisation than before without a doubt.

“But it’s the first time that happens in my life.

“So I need some time to adjust all the things that are going to help me to stay the same as before, but I think I have all the things around me that help me to keep going without problems.”

Read related topics:Sydney

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *