Rafael Nadal is more relaxed, more serene, more confident, the one who answers the questions of journalists after the convincing success in three sets on a however positive Fabio Fognini. He trained well finally, free from back pain.
And the logical consequence was a good performance on the pitch. “In the first set I expressed my best level during the tournament. It's normal because I managed to train for two days in a row. This makes a big difference”.
However, Rafa knows that his level will have to rise again if he wants to go all the way. But for the moment he is enjoying the progress shown on the pitch against the Italian. “My physical condition still needs to improve.
But this match helped me. I haven't been able to train well in the last twenty days but yesterday I started to increase the workload again. And today I won a good game with some long rallies. This helps me for the next match”.
Rafael Nadal scored a straight-sets win over Fabio Fognini on Monday, to advance to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open where he will meet Greece's Stefanos Tsistipas. But much of the talk around the Spaniard in the first week has been centered around his iffy back.
Rafael Nadal recalls his injury at US Open 2009
In his press conference on Monday, Rafael Nadal cited his own personal experience with an abdominal injury at the 2009 US Open, which worsened as the tournament wore on. Nadal claimed he was willing to take the risk since it was the end of the season and he had a one-month window to recuperate after the tournament.
"I remember in the US Open 2009 that I started the US Open with a strain, I think, here in the abdominal," Nadal said. "I started with 6 millimeters or so of strain and I finished the tournament, I lost in that semis against Del Potro and I finished the tournament with 26 mm.
Of course it wasn't a smart decision," he added. "Well, it depends what you have later after the US Open. I feel that if I have to rest for one month or something, it was not a disaster for me." Rafael Nadal will next take on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, with the Greek having received a walkover from Matteo Berrettini in the fourth round.
The World No. 2 is bidding to become the first man in the Open Era to win every Grand Slam twice. Perhaps more importantly though, he is also aiming to break Roger Federer's all-time record of 20 Grand Slam titles.