Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in the final stages of 2019 to add his fifth no. 1 at the end of the year. Nadal concluded the season with the Davis Cup Finals crown and began the 2020 campaign in another team competition.
Rafa led Spain to the final of the inaugural ATP Cup, losing 2-1 to Serbia and missing the opportunity to hold the two notable team titles. Shifting focus from him to the Australian Open, Nadal advanced to the fourth round after a landslide 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory over compatriot Pablo Carreño Busta in one hour and 38 minutes.
Fighting 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 progressing to the knockout stages. The 2009 champion lost just ten points on serve, never faces a break point, and increases the pressure on the other side of the net after scoring 42 winners and only seven unforced errors.
As expected, Carreño Busta couldn't keep up with those numbers, struggled with the second serve in a big way and broke five times out of ten opportunities Rafa was given, despite some comfortable holds in sets two and three.
Satisfied with his performance, Nadal described the victory as the best of the tournament so far. The Spaniard was happy with his serve and forehand and expected more against Nick Kyrgios or Karen Khachanov in the next round.
Nadal pays tribute to Gasol
Rafael Nadal recently paid tribute to Pau Gasol after the Spanish basketball player announced his retirement from the sport. Over the course of a 23-year career, Gasol won two NBA titles, as well as three Olympic medals.
"The reality is that it is a sad day in a way," he said. "One of the great legends of our sport is leaving. I honestly think I'm very happy for him. He has been able to finish his career the way he wanted, playing and fighting for titles and doing it at a very high level.
He leaves behind a legacy that I believe is indelible in every way." Nadal added that his relationship with Gasol goes "far beyond sports." "Our relationship goes far beyond sports. I think that in the future we will continue to have a fantastic relationship and maybe we can do things together," he said.
"When two people understand each other, the world is open to joining the paths. We have already done it many times with our projects and why not continue doing things that both amuse us and that somehow make us spend more time together."