14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, says he will fight to climb the rankings and continue to strive for improvement in his game.
Former world No 1 and two-time Australian Open champion cruised to victory in his first round tie at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. A 6-3 6-4 6-4 demolition over experienced German Florian Mayer, showed signs Nadal is rapidly approaching the phenomenal standard we are so used to seeing.
The 30-year-old feels being ranked at No 9 in the world certainly affects his confidence, but the fight for future success is still very much there.
“Yes, it makes a difference,” Nadal said. “It’s much better being number one, than being number nine, there’s no question about that.
“Today I am the ninth player of the world. I’m going to fight to not be worse, and I am going to fight again to be better. I feel If I’m playing well and I’m healthy, I think I can be much better.”
Despite claiming a gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics with compatriot Marc Lopez, speculation has been ever-present throughout Nadal’s injury-plagued 2015/16 – will ‘La Decima’ ever come to fruition at Roland Garros?
The 9-time French Open champion had to withdraw from the 2016 French Open due to a wrist injury, which would also cause the Spaniard to play no part at Wimbledon.
During the post-match press conference after impressively beating Mayer, Nadal addressed the most challenging part of coming back from lengthy injuries.
“Getting back confidence,” he said. “When you are playing and playing and winning matches you have things that come very automatic. You don’t need to think much about the things that are happening or the way that you play the points.
“But when you are out for a while you need to recover all these automatic things that make you play easier.
“When you come back for the new season, everybody starts a little bit from zero again.”
Nadal faces Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in round two of the Australian Open on Thursday January 19 – the clay court specialist boasts an 8-1 record over Baghdatis. If successful, a third round tie against 6ft 6inch German sensation, Alexander Zverev, is likely to unfold.
The 19-year-old battled through a five-set marathon against Robin Hasse 6-2 3-6 5-7 6-3 6-2 for the right to take on American Frances Tiafoe in round two.