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Rafael Nadal - Australian Open 2022

Rafael Nadal highlights ‘negative point’ as he calls for change to United Cup following Spain’s exit


Rafael Nadal has called for an overhaul of the United Cup, after Spain lost a dead tie against Australia.

The new teams’ tournament debuted in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane this past week and has seen many exciting contests, as players prepare for the Australian Open

Nadal has not faired so well in the competition, losing to Cameron Norrie and Alex De Minaur, suffering defeats in his opening two games of the season for the first time in his career.

However, this was not his main talking point as the Spaniard wanted to give some critique, which he felt would improve the tournament in years to come.

“Putting things in perspective (for) this competition, I find a negative point,” the world No.2 said. “Competition is great. Idea is great. It’s not great that today we are playing for nothing. It’s the first year of this competition, so that’s the kind of thing that we need to fix, to improve, and to make it more interesting for everyone.”

Nadal believes that because each group contains three teams, the loser of the first tie should play the team that hasn’t had a match so there is more on the line.

Spain could not progress in the competition after finding themselves 3-1 down to Great Britain, which meant that the remaining mixed doubles and the whole tie against Australia was meaningless, in terms of the competition.

Nadal skipped the mixed doubles against Great Britain, but said he would have played if it meant that getting a point could have helped.

Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley defended the competition, “The United Cup’s absolutely fantastic. If you watched last night, we’ve had full stadiums, we’ve had over 120,000 people already go through the gate. Yesterday, 40,000 people in one day in Perth, Brisbane and in Sydney.”

Tiley adds, “That’s remarkable – we’ve never had that. It beats most major tennis events around the world for one day’s attendance. So unbelievably successful, great, positive feedback from the players.”

Despite this, Tiley suggested that there could be some changes made for the second edition of the United Cup, including the possibility of ensuring live mixed doubles matches.

“We’ll do a debrief (on) what can be improved for 2024,” Tiley said, “It’s important to know that we announced this event five weeks before we started about a five-week run-up to deliver on this event.”

“Everyone wanted us to only do it in 2024, and we made a decision to do it in 2023. So I’m proud that the team’s pulled together what they pulled together. It’s going be a great event. It’s going to finish really strong in the finals in Sydney.”

Since withdrawing from his Wimbledon semi-final with injury, Nadal has struggled to find form winning only four matches out of 11.

The 36-year-old has not had ideal preparation for defending his Australian Open title, but says he is playing well in moments.

“I need hours on court; I need battles like this,” the Melbourne Park defending champion said.

“I have two weeks before the Australian Open starts. I can’t say that the situation is ideal, but at the same time, I can’t say that it’s very negative, because for moments, I was playing good. I think that two matches is gonna help me. I need to win a couple of matches.”

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