Before leaving for the trip to Australia where they both face the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, Spaniards Roberto Bautista and Rafael Nadal spent time together training for the new season. The two are great friends even off the pitch and will join forces to try to bring Spain to victory in the second edition of the ATP Cup, a competition that we will see in Australia from 1 to 5 February.
Nadal has really taken care of every detail in view of the Australian Grand Slam, the Grand Slam that has created the most difficulties for him and which he has won only once in his career. Last year Rafa was defeated in the quarter-finals by Austrian Dominic Thiem, a finalist who was then knocked out only in five sets in the final act against world number one Novak Djokovic.
The 34-year-old Iberian tennis player played his last final here in Melbourne two years ago when he was clearly defeated by Djokovic. During a recent interview on a show called 'Alvarez Cafe', Rafael Nadal opened up about several subjects, including crowd behavior at Roland Garros.
Nadal admitted that fan support in Paris wasn't easy to come by at the start of his career, but he also believes the French have always had a soft spot for him.
Nadal on crowd behavior at Roland Garros
"To be honest, in the beginning, in some matches in Philippe Chatrier things got complicated," Rafael Nadal said.
"I never took it personally and France is one of the countries in which I feel more loved. Before, when people thought that in Paris they treated me very badly, it was not true. I was walking around Paris and the affection and recognition was total.
It is true that when I played with the French or with Federer, who at that time had never won, the balance leaned the other way," he added. "But I never took it personally." Rafael Nadal also touched upon the topic of retirement, and explained why he doesn't live in fear of that moment.
"I think I'm still looking forward and wanting to move on, but without any fear of that day coming," Nadal said. "I have many things in life that make me happy outside of tennis and that takes away the tension of not wanting that day to come.
I take it naturally. It is true that I have had many problems during my career, but it is also true that I have always succeeded," Nadal went on. "Sometimes it has cost more, other times less, but the medical, tennis and mental solution has always been found."
Since the early 2000s, the ‘big 3’ of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic have dominated the ATP rankings. They have for the most part have stayed in the top 10. Federer was the first member to reach the top 10 and thus is the leader of an elite record, but now Nadal and Djokovic aren’t too far behind.
Federer first reached the top 10 of the ATP rankings in 2002, and now in 2021 he still finds himself in the top 10. That makes it 19 years apart from the first time he was ranked in the top 10 to the last time. Nadal and Djokovic aren’t too far behind.
Federer took this record from Andre Agassi, who had a difference of 18 years from his first top 10 appearance to his last. Nadal first breached the top 10 in 2005 and has been there for the last 16 years. Rafa is three years behind Federer, two behind Agassi, and level with Jimmy Connors.