Nadal made a huge statement ahead of the season’s first Grand Slam – Australian Open – by lifting the Melbourne Summer Set trophy.
Rafael Nadal‘s title success in Melbourne after a lengthy absence would have enthralled the Spaniard’s supporters, who know him for his ability to recover from adversity. The 20-time Grand Slam champion made a huge statement ahead of the season’s first Grand Slam – Australian Open – by lifting the Melbourne Summer Set trophy on Sunday. He had defeated American qualifier Maxime Cressy 7-6, 6-3 in the final. What makes the title impressive is the fact that Nadal was playing for the first time since August after a foot injury curtailed his 2021 season. Also not to mention that a positive COVID-19 test had hampered his pre-season.
“Given what we went through, this is a very special title,” Nadal said, with a trophy in his hands. “I’m not really one to say this, but I think I’m pretty satisfied on a personal level. I’ve been through a lot of tough times and I never lost hope or my desire to work with the right attitude. I feel happy about it and reaping the rewards with a title always makes it worth it.”
This title triumph might not be the biggest of Nadal’s career, but it is a sign which shows that the Spaniard is on the right path. “Winning is always special, whatever the title is. At the end of the day, it’s another title for my CV. But I’m happy about it, particularly because I know what we went through,” acknowledged Nadal. “Knowing how much work we did. My family and team have been there for me unconditionally during all these months, which have been difficult. There were many doubts, there still are. Let’s be honest. It’s just a start, but it’s a positive start. I’m very satisfied.”
“The first four days were terrible, I couldn’t move. I had awful joint pain,” he remembers in detail. “I was either on the sofa or in bed, unable to move. I had a high fever. That was the first four days. Then I was very tired for three days. Around the eighth day, as I have a bike at home, I started to do half an hour very lightly in order to start working. Then I had a negative [test] and I was able to train the odd day at home. I decided to leave for Australia because I understood that it was best for me mentally and in terms of my tennis.”
The championship match against Maxime Cressy offered Nadal an opportunity to get used to a difficult tactical challenge ahead of the Australian Open. “Today was a very positive match against an opponent who was very awkward and very difficult,” offered the Spaniard. “I did a lot of things well; I served well, I returned well. From the baseline I think I played points more within myself, with more restraint when hitting the ball. My movements were much more fluid. In general, I did a lot of things better than yesterday. I’m sure this will help me to go forward positively and give me energy for this week of training, which will be important.
“I know that I’m coming from a very tough situation. I understand that expectations are always high, because of what I’ve done in my career, but my approach is a little different. I will try to make every day, every training session, count. At the moment, I don’t feel like a genuine contender for what might come in a week. Later, you never know. Things change quickly in sport. What I have to do is be prepared for what might happen. If things improve, I’ll be here. You know I will give everything to try and have a chance. That’s why I’m here. Right now, my only goal is to stay on my path, work hard during the week and see if I am ready when I get there.”