Australian Open: Nadal not 'obsessed' in grand slam pursuit

By Sports Desk February 15, 2021

Rafael Nadal insisted he is not "obsessed" in his quest for further grand slam glory after the 20-time major champion moved through to the Australian Open quarter-finals. 

Nadal advanced to the last eight of the tournament for the 13th time in his illustrious career following Monday's dominant 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory over 16th seed Fabio Fognini.

World number two Nadal is bidding to claim a record 21st slam crown, while the Spanish star is also looking to become the first man in the Open Era to win each of the four majors twice.

As Nadal looks ahead to a showdown with fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, he discussed his motivations, having won everything on offer on the ATP Tour.

"I play tennis. I like tennis," the 34-year-old said. "I like what I am doing. That's the main thing. 

"Of course I am very motivated to win grand slams and to play in the most important events of the year. No doubt about that.

"The only thing that I said is I have never been obsessed to try to be the best or to try to – no, I just did my way. That worked for me.

"I think the ambition is important, to have an ambition, but a healthy ambition. If you have too much ambition then you can be frustrated when you are not able to achieve all the things that you wanted.

"I never approached the sport and my career that way. That's it. I enjoy, I give my best always. I try to compete at my highest standards every day. Sometimes the highest standards are 60 per cent, sometimes they are 100 per cent. But I just try to give my best throughout my career, and that's it.

"For me the main thing is come back home with personal satisfaction that you gave it everything. That's what gives me happiness and makes me stay calm."

Nadal was under an injury cloud heading into the year's first grand slam due to a back problem which forced him to sit out Spain's ATP Cup campaign in Melbourne.

But the 2009 Australian Open champion has looked comfortable at Melbourne Park, where he is yet to drop a set.

"I played first set without a doubt [against Fognini] has been my best level in the tournament," Nadal said. "It's normal, too, because I was able to practice for two days in a row. That makes an important difference. 

"But at the same time, it's important to find positive feelings now. My physical condition needs to keep improving. But I think this match helps, too.

"I was not able to practice the proper way for the last 19 days, but yesterday [Sunday] I started again to increase the amount of work on the practice, and today has been a positive victory with some long points, so that helps for the next match."

Related items

  • Murray building confidence after reaching Moselle quarters Murray building confidence after reaching Moselle quarters

    Andy Murray is building confidence after he claimed back-to-back wins for the first time since Wimbledon by defeating Vasek Pospisil at the Moselle Open.

    Murray followed up Tuesday's triumph against Ugo Humbert with a straight-sets victory over the Canadian, reaching the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-3 success.

    The last eight will see Murray face either Lucas Pouille or top seed Hubert Hurkacz, who he lost to in Cincinnati last month.

    However, Murray has since played an exceptional five-setter with Stefanos Tsitsipas at the US Open and the former world number one and three-time grand slam champion is feeling increasingly positive about his game.

    "This period has been the most tournaments I've played [recently] and my body feels good and I'm starting to gain just a little bit of confidence with each match," Murray said in his on-court interview. 

    "[I'm] starting to see the points and how I want to play them again, which is great. There have been times in the past year where I've been a little bit confused and not seeing how the points are developing and stuff, which for me was always a strong part of my game and it made me feel quite uncomfortable on the court when I was feeling that way.

    "I'm starting to get that back and the results are coming and my tennis is getting better."

    The two other last 16 matches saw second seed Pablo Carreno Busta defeat Mikael Ymer 7-5 6-2, while fifth seed Lorenzo Sonego fell victim to a comeback from teenager Holger Rune, who prevailed 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 6-4.

    Pouille came from behind to set up his clash with Hurkacz with a three-set win over qualifier Brayden Schnur, and Peter Gojowczyk was victorious in another first-round match.

    At the Astana Open, defending champion John Millman came through a marathon match with Jaume Munar to reach the quarter-finals. The Australian took victory 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 after three hours and nine minutes.

    Seventh seed Laslo Djere needed three sets to see off Lorenzo Musetti but eighth seed Ilya Ivashka had little difficulty beating Timofey Skatov in straight sets.

    There were also wins for James Duckworth, Kwon Soon-woo, Emil Ruusuvuori and Carlos Taberner.

  • Murray dispatches home favourite Humbert in Moselle Open first round Murray dispatches home favourite Humbert in Moselle Open first round

    Andy Murray battled through to the second round of the Moselle Open with a 4-6 6-3 6-2 victory over sixth seed Ugo Humbert on Tuesday.

    Murray chose to play in the event as a wildcard to improve his world ranking and avoid tougher first-round encounters, such as facing Stefanos Tsitsipas at the U.S. Open, and he recovered from going behind in the opening set to ease through his first-round tie.

    Humbert, who is ranked 26th in the world, came into the clash 87 places ahead of the two-time Wimbledon winner but failed to make home advantage count as the Scot dispatched of him in just over two hours.

    Karen Khachanov, who is the seventh seed in Metz, avoided a similar first-set scare to overcome Alexandre Muller 4-6 6-1 6-3, while Marcos Giron edged past Arthur Rinderknech 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4.

    That win sets up a second-round tie with fourth seed Alex de Minaur, with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina sneaking past Gilles Simon 4-6 (4-7) 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 in Tuesday's other match.

    Frenchman Benoit Paire crashed out of the Astana Open to world number 97 Egor Gerasimov as he lost 7-5 6-4.

    John Millman, the fifth seed, did not endure similar struggles as he recovered from losing the first set to ease past Dmitry Popko 3-6 6-1 6-4.

    Meanwhile, Ilya Ivashka coasted past Elias Ymer 6-2 6-4 in just over 90 minutes to secure his second-round berth in the Czech Republic.

  • Federer impressed by 'crazy' year for Djokovic as he sets sights on comeback Federer impressed by 'crazy' year for Djokovic as he sets sights on comeback

    Novak Djokovic may have missed out on completing a Grand Slam in 2021 but his "crazy" achievements across the year have received praise from Roger Federer. 

    Djokovic fell at the final hurdle in his bid to secure a clean sweep of the majors, losing in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev at the US Open.

    The Serbian's defeat at Flushing Meadows means Rod Laver remains the last man to claim all four majors in one year, the Australian doing so for a second time in 1969 having previously managed the feat seven years earlier. 

    Neither Federer, who missed out on playing in New York due to knee surgery, nor Rafael Nadal have done so in their stellar careers, though the Swiss is certain a calendar slam is still possible.

    "Will it actually happen again, that a player will win all four grand slams in their career? I think so," Federer said.

    "We have seen with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and of course with me as well that this is possible.  

    "It is extremely hard, of course. But I have the feeling, more than ever, that we can dominate on all kinds of ground where we have all found our own game.  

    "The problem is mentally and physically it is not getting any easier for any of us. So, what Novak was able to accomplish this year has to be highly rated. It was absolute top class. It was crazy." 

    Federer confirmed he would be out for "many months" when revealing he would require a third procedure on his problematic right knee in the space of 18 months.

    However, the 40-year-old – who sits tied with long-time rivals Djokovic and Nadal on 20 grand slam singles titles – has suffered no setbacks in his recovery so far, putting him on course for a competitive return to the ATP Tour in the 2022 season.

    "I'm feeling actually really good, considering, you know, that things are not as I hoped they would be, but I'm recovering well and the rehab is going really good, I must say," Federer said. 

    "I've had no setbacks. You know, every day is a better day. I'm feeling strong and excited for what's to come."

    Federer has not played since losing in straight sets to Hubert Hurkacz in the Wimbledon quarter-finals back in July.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.