"Kia has been by my side since I was 17 years old...I'm excited to see what the next five years bring both on and off the court," Rafael Nadal has said about his re-signing with the South Korean motor company, Kia.
It's been a rough physical and emotional time for the 2nd ranked ATP player as he's used to participating at most tournaments not only for enjoyment but competition. This year, by March the coronavirus hit the world and the tour had to shut down, postponing some events and cancelling others.
But Rafael Nadal remained vigilant and cruised to success despite the tour hiatus. The year began turbulent as the ATP Cup was supposed to have been punctuated with jubilation and healthy competition where Spain was in heavy opposition with determined feisty countries.
On paper, Nadal was expected to defeat Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay and Belgium's David Goffin, but he suffered double losses there and then was defeated in the final by Goffin at the quarterfinals and Novak Djokovic in the final.
It was at the Australian Open that he'd lose to the ever fiery Austrian Dominic Thiem in four sets. Nadal is a trooper and he'd come back from the defeats to win the Mexican Open in March, his third title in Acapulco where he scored victories in 2005 and then in 2013.
He was up against stiff opposition from the NextGen Taylor Fritz but as he went through the tournament he hadn't dropped a set the entire event. "I couldn't be happier, I played great from beginning to end," Nadal said smilingly.
But Fritz was even more realistic saying of the Spaniard that "He's one of the best players to ever play the game and he showed me why that is tonight."
At that point things were looking great for Rafael Nadal who dug it out to win his first yearly title after a drought in three months.
Nadal felt fortunate of his win saying that "Acapulco was the first big title that I won in my career, so to be able to stay here after 15 yers is amazing."
But then the coronavirus storm blew in and wiped out every players' dream of doing well for a big portion of the season still left. The tour had shut down as one by one tournaments were slammed and no one knew the uncertainty to lie ahead.
Nadal had fought endlessly to keep his Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca, Spain afloat. The entire fleet of other Academies in Kuwait, Mexico, Greece and Cancun were also on the Spaniard's mind as he not only looked after his own interest in keeping his body in tune, but the standards in shape for his Academies in the face of world health communities.
At present, to commit to the Madrid Open, the U.S. Open and Roland Garros are huge accomplishments that he'd like to complete but not playing competitively in months he knows will take a toll on his body and mind.
He knows that it's impossible to play all three because there are too many in a short period of time. He's committed and showed intention of playing the Madrid Open, one of his favorites, winning numerous titles. He has also proved to be the defending champ of the U.S.
Open last year having victory over Daniil Medvedev and at Roland Garros capturing his title over Dominic Thiem in four sets. There are many tangibles that Nadal and the entire ATP, WTA and ITF circuits have to take into account and that is the state of the coronavirus crisis; while many states and countries have improved greatly, some have had resurgences.
It is constant on the players' minds as to how they will be affected and if tournaments can be on throughout the end of the season. It was just announced of the entire 'China Swing' being cancelled until next year and no one knows what else will be slammed.
But a bright light always shines for Nadal and that is his sponsorships. The President of Kia Motors, Ho Sung Song is delighted that the Spaniard has re-signed to be their global ambassador again. He's commented that "Our 16-year partnership with Rafa has inspired millions of people to play tennis...we wanted to put them at the heart of his training and encourage his successful return to competition..."
Rafael Nadal is also looking to cruise to success again. He can't wait to get out on the courts no matter grass, clay or hardcourt and prove his ability to maintain his entertainment and competitive level for the game producing victories and joy for himself and his fans.