Rafael Nadal ‘feels no pressure’ at Australian Open despite historic opportunity
With the absence of Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal has an opening to surpass him and Roger Federer and be the first man to capture 21 Major titles.
However, given the perspective gained from recent injury woes and a lengthy professional career, the Spaniard is not feeling pressed by the situation.
Across the Melbourne Summer Set, which he won, and two rounds of the Australian Open, Nadal has now played five competitive matches on his return in 2022.
The fact he is able to continue to play is enough for the 35-year-old at the moment, as he explained after defeating Yannick Hanfmann to reach the third round.
“Of course [the victory] allows me to keep going,” he said in his post-match press conference.
“In two days I’m going to have another chance against a very good opponent like [Karen] Khachanov.
“But that’s the main thing. I said here before the tournament that things weren’t going to be perfect.
“But everyday that I spend on court, the chances to play better are higher.”
Nadal has won both matches so far in Melbourne in straight sets, dropping 16 games across six sets.
Olympic silver medallist and world number 30 Khachanov will likely prove more of a test for Nadal, but he is calm about how things are going.
“I think I am doing things well, [there are also] things that I have to improve to keep going in the tournament.
“After all the things that I’ve been going through, I don’t have big pressure on my shoulders, I don’t feel it.
“The pressure is only to stay healthy and to enjoy the fact that I am competing and to give my best as I have throughout my career.”
Not only would Nadal make history with a new record 21st men’s singles Slam crown, but he would equal Djokovic’s feat of winning all four Majors at least twice, known as the Double Career Grand Slam.
Nadal has only won the Australian Open once, in 2009, since making four finals, losing to Djokovic in 2012 and 2019, Stan Wawrinka in 2014 and Federer in 2017.
He has won Roland Garros 13 times, the US Open four times and Wimbledon twice on top of that 2009 Australian Open triumph.
Djokovic completed the Double Career Grand Slam in 2021 when he clinched a second Roland Garros title.
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