Rafael Nadal arrives in Melbourne

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Rafael Nadal arrives in Melbourne

The 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal arrived in Melbourne from Adelaide, preparing for the ATP Cup and the Australian Open. Rafa will defend the national colors at the ATP Cup this week, hoping to go one step further than in 2020 and claim the title for Spain after losing the final to Serbia a year ago.

Nadal had been in Adelaide for the past two weeks, serving a two-week quarantine and practicing alone and with Jannik Sinner. On Friday, Rafa played an exhibition match against Dominic Thiem at A Day at the Drive, beating the Austrian 7-5, 6-4 for the season's first victory.

Nadal scored a single break in each set and served well to bring the win home in straight sets after a high-quality contest. Thiem held in the opening game following Nadal's error at the net before the Spaniard got his name on the scoreboard in game two with a service winner.

Dominic closed the third game after deuce with a booming serve, and Rafa followed that with another comfortable hold a few minutes later to level the score at 2-2. Thiem fired an ace to grab the fifth game and remain in front before Nadal brought the next game home at love to follow the rival's pace after 21 minutes.

Dominic held at 30 in game seven and created a break chance in the next one, denied by the Spaniard, who remained on the positive side and gained momentum. The Austrian held at love in game nine but couldn't do the same at 5-5, spraying a massive forehand error at 5-5 to suffer a break and push the Spaniard in front.

Serving for the set, Rafa fended off a break chance and sealed it with a forehand crosscourt winner for 7-5 after 51 minutes.

Rafael Nadal arrived in Melbourne ahead of the first official matches of 2021.

Nadal held at 15 with a service winner at the beginning of the second set and produced another comfortable hold to lock the result at 2-2.

The Spaniard landed a volley winner in game eight and earned a break a few minutes later following Thiem's weak slice that cost him dearly. Serving for the triumph, Rafa placed a volley winner in game ten to move over the top and celebrate the season's first victory ahead of Melbourne's official encounters at the ATP Cup and the Australian Open.

"From Melbourne now where we arrived late last night, wanted to thank once again the people of Adelaide and South Australia for having us these past 14 days of quarantine. Also @tennisaustralia for organizing the exhibition we played yesterday and the people who came to watch.

It was great to see tennis with crowds, having fun and enjoying their time. That is also a result of how well things have been done in this country. Many thanks and hope to see you next year. And now, hi Melbourne, and thank you Victorians for having us. I'm looking forward to these next weeks. @atpcup and @australianopen, here we are," Rafael Nadal said.