Rafa’s options: grand slams or fishing
WHEN the alternative is to “go fishing’’, Rafael Nadal says he wants to give himself every chance to add to his Grand Slam tennis silverware this year.
Nadal arrived for his first Brisbane International, determined to buy himself time in the tournament after a short lead-in time.
The 14-time Grand Slam champion decided he needed three exhibition matches in Abu Dhabi on his way from Spain and will have had just 42 hours in Brisbane when he plays his first match against Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Nadal, 30, said he could not predict if he will be able to end a wait for a 15th major title extending back to June, 2014.
“I cannot predict that. I don’t know,’’ Nadal said.
“If I am healthy, I believe I can do it. If not, I will go fishing.’’
Nadal posed for photographs with a koala, Dianne, outside the Queensland Tennis Centre, the first time he said he was seen one in the fur despite 11 previous trips to Australian.
It was a component of his promotional obligation as part of an appearance fee of several hundred thousand dollars, part funded by the State Government’s support of the Brisbane International.
Nadal said his three wins in as many days in the Abu Dhabi exhibition had increased his confidence that his suspect left wrist, which led him to scrap the last season of his 2016 season, was tournament ready.
“I played well in Abu Dhabi. I played three good matches and the timing here to adapt myself to the tournament here is not very long,’’ the world No.9 said.
“I will do my best. Tuesday is an important day.
“If I am able to get through Tuesday I have one day off. It helps.
I’m focused on being ready for Tuesday.’’
Nadal chose to make Brisbane his first tournament of the year rather than the Doha alternative he has played for many years.
“I don’t know if it will help me or not – I can tell you after Melbourne,’’ he said.
“I cannot predict the future. But I feel happy that people here (in Australia) always make me feel special.’’
Dolgopolov, ranked No.62, has beaten Nadal in the past two matches between them played to a conclusion.
“Nobody have an easy draw in Brisbane – it’s so difficult here,’’ he said. “You can see, first round is Ferrer against Tomic. You have to be ready for that.
“There is no space in the draw where you can say it’s better.’’