After A Day at the Drive exhibition in Adelaide, Rafael Nadal will play the season's first official match against Alex de Minaur in the ATP Cup. The 20-time Major champion will try to send Spain into the semi-final over Australia and Greece, feeling motivated to show his best tennis like Roberto Bautista Agut and the rest of the squad.
Rafa and Alex played a thrilling ATP Cup encounter, with the Spaniard prevailing 4-6, 7-6, 6-1 to propel Spain into the final. Carried by the home crown, the youngster stayed on level terms with Rafa for over an hour before losing ground in the second set's closing stages.
With no room for errors, Nadal won the second set tie break and never looked back, storming over de Minaur in the decider with three breaks to bring the victory home. Praising the Antalya champion, Nadal said it was an emotional match for him, with another tough battle coming in a couple of days against the rival who is constantly improving.
Rafael Nadal praised Alex de Minaur ahead of their clash.
"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.
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.