Rafael Nadal: 'It will be strange, I'm not used to playing a week before Major'

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Rafael Nadal: 'It will be strange, I'm not used to playing a week before Major'

Like other players from the top, world no. 2 Rafael Nadal stays away from the official matches in the week ahead of Major events. That will have to change this week, as Rafa steps on the court (with the other notable top-20 players) to defend the national players at the ATP Cup.

The 20-time Major champion will kick off the official season at Melbourne Park against Alex de Minaur and Stefanos Tsitsipas, hoping for a strong start and momentum ahead of the season's first Major, the one he hasn't won since 2009.

Rafa is thrilled ahead of the team competition, saying that the entire team can't wait to start the matches, trying to go one step further than in 2020 when they lost to Serbia in the final. "For me, preparation has been positive.

I have been able to practice for around two hours per day in Adelaide. Some days a little bit more, two hours and 20 minutes. That's it. I think I did the things that I had to do to be ready. Now is the moment to start playing and practicing with other colleagues, and let's see what's going on.

When we arrived here, we have this quarantine.

Rafael Nadal will play at least two singles matches before the Australian Open.

But I think that's over. It is the moment to start talking about tennis. That's why we came here: to play tennis, to try to give to the fans around the world and here in Australia.

For some of the people suffering a lot at home, we will try to entertain them. The only way to make that happen is to go on court, try our best. It's a very unusual situation for most of us. Most of you that are around tennis know I never play the week before a Grand Slam.

So it's a bit new and strange situation. But here I am, the same as the rest of the team, to try our best in every moment. Because we are a team and a good one, we have different options with great players. Everybody's ready to play on a competitive level.

It was an emotional match against de Minaur last year, not great for me, but emotional. Alex is young; he's improving every year. I think it's going to be a tough battle for all of us playing against a great team like Australia," Rafael Nadal said.