Rafael Nadal recalls: 'I feel sorry for Pablo Carreno Busta, he is one of my..'

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Rafael Nadal recalls: 'I feel sorry for Pablo Carreno Busta, he is one of my..'

Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in the closing stages of 2019 to embrace his fifth year-end no. 1 honor. Nadal wrapped up the season with the Davis Cup Finals crown and kicked off the 2020 campaign at another team competition.

Rafa led Spain towards the final at the inaugural ATP Cup, losing 2-1 to Serbia and missing a chance to hold both notable team titles. Switching his focus to the Australian Open, Nadal advanced into the fourth round following a commanding 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory over the fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in an hour and 38 minutes.

Struggling a bit against Federico Delbonis in the previous round, Nadal played much better in this one on a sunny Rod Laver Arena, controlling the pace from start to finish and marching into the last 16. The 2009 champion lost only ten points behind the initial shot, never facing a break point and mounting the pressure on the other side of the net after hitting 42 winners and only seven unforced errors!

As was expected, Carreno Busta could not follow those numbers, struggling on the second serve big time and getting broken five times from ten opportunities given to Rafa, despite some comfortable holds in sets two and three.

Pleased with how he performed, Nadal described the victory as his best one of the tournament up to that point. The Spaniard was happy about his serve and forehand down the line stroke and hoping for more against Nick Kyrgios or Karen Khachanov in the next round.

Rafael Nadal beat Pablo Carreno Busta at the 2020 Australian Open.

"Today, I played the best match of the tournament so far. That's a very positive thing, to be able to improve a bit every single day. I'm super happy, but I also feel sorry for Pablo; he is a good friend of mine, and I wish him all the best for the rest of the season.

We are professionals, and we all try our best, even if we come from the same country and have been knowing each other for years. When the conditions are slightly warmer, the bounce is higher, and the ball is flying quicker, which helps my game.

Today I served well and produced some good forehands down the line, which is a key shot. The preparations for this year's Australian Open have been different than in the previous years, with the ATP Finals, the Davis Cup Finals and the ATP Cup in almost back-to-back weeks.

And here I am, still fighting in this amazing Stadium in front of the supportive crowd that always cheers for me. As I said, the goal is to get better with every match, and I have made another step forward," Rafael Nadal said.