JAUME PUJOL-GALCERAN · BARCELONA
Possibility of Nadal becoming Nº 1 in Australia
By Jaume Pujol-Galcerán
For the very first time Rafael Nadal has in his sights the possibility of reaching number one at a tournament: the Australian Open which begins at Melbourne Park on Monday. But to achieve this he must be champion or runner-up and hope that Roger Federer does not get past the quarter-finals. There is now just a 650 point difference between him and the Swiss player in the ATP world ranking. Nadal has never been so close, although being number one is not something that worries him at the moment.
"Being number one does not worry me in the least, I just hope Roger will be fit enough to play a good tournament,"
Toni Nadal, the player's trainer, said yesterday in a telephone conversation with this newspaper before travelling to Melbourne to join his nephew.
Despite Nadal's defeat in the Chennai final, his coach is optimistic about the way the world number two has started the season. "I think Rafael played well in India," said Toni Nadal, who played down the thrashing he suffered at the hands of Mikhail Youzhny, only managing to win one game in the 57 minute match. "We knew he was going to have a bad time. Rafael had already told me the day before that he was absolutely worn out. There wasn't a match at all in the final. I think he paid the consequences of the four hours he was on court against Moyà the previous day," explained the Mallorcan coach, who had not been able to watch his nephew on television as they did not have the digital channel where he was celebrating "Kings' Day" (Jan 6th Epiphany, when the Three Wise Men bring Spanish children their Xmas gifts) with his three small children.
Toni Nadal said Nadal had no physical problem. "The thing was not to force himself. The important thing is to be fit and well for Australia and I think Rafa will be. He is feeling good on court.
The final aside, I liked the way he was playing. Perhaps his groundstrokes were a few inches short, not quite deep enough, the day he played Moyà, but it was his first tournament and Rafael always finds that hard."
Nadal will begin practising in Melbourne tomorrow. He has five days to get the feel of the new surface that is to be used this year at the Australian Open.