Australian Open: Nadal not 'obsessed' in grand slam pursuit

By Sports Desk February 15, 2021

Rafael Nadal insisted he is not "obsessed" in his quest for further grand slam glory after the 20-time major champion moved through to the Australian Open quarter-finals. 

Nadal advanced to the last eight of the tournament for the 13th time in his illustrious career following Monday's dominant 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory over 16th seed Fabio Fognini.

World number two Nadal is bidding to claim a record 21st slam crown, while the Spanish star is also looking to become the first man in the Open Era to win each of the four majors twice.

As Nadal looks ahead to a showdown with fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, he discussed his motivations, having won everything on offer on the ATP Tour.

"I play tennis. I like tennis," the 34-year-old said. "I like what I am doing. That's the main thing. 

"Of course I am very motivated to win grand slams and to play in the most important events of the year. No doubt about that.

"The only thing that I said is I have never been obsessed to try to be the best or to try to – no, I just did my way. That worked for me.

"I think the ambition is important, to have an ambition, but a healthy ambition. If you have too much ambition then you can be frustrated when you are not able to achieve all the things that you wanted.

"I never approached the sport and my career that way. That's it. I enjoy, I give my best always. I try to compete at my highest standards every day. Sometimes the highest standards are 60 per cent, sometimes they are 100 per cent. But I just try to give my best throughout my career, and that's it.

"For me the main thing is come back home with personal satisfaction that you gave it everything. That's what gives me happiness and makes me stay calm."

Nadal was under an injury cloud heading into the year's first grand slam due to a back problem which forced him to sit out Spain's ATP Cup campaign in Melbourne.

But the 2009 Australian Open champion has looked comfortable at Melbourne Park, where he is yet to drop a set.

"I played first set without a doubt [against Fognini] has been my best level in the tournament," Nadal said. "It's normal, too, because I was able to practice for two days in a row. That makes an important difference. 

"But at the same time, it's important to find positive feelings now. My physical condition needs to keep improving. But I think this match helps, too.

"I was not able to practice the proper way for the last 19 days, but yesterday [Sunday] I started again to increase the amount of work on the practice, and today has been a positive victory with some long points, so that helps for the next match."

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    After falling 5-2 down, Norrie received treatment from the physio but got back on his feet to see the game out even though his fate was already sealed.

  • Krajicek hopes Alcaraz does not simply try to emulate Nadal Krajicek hopes Alcaraz does not simply try to emulate Nadal

    Richard Krajicek believes it will hurt Carlos Alcaraz's career if he compares himself too much to Rafael Nadal.

    Alcaraz is being hailed as Spanish tennis' next big hope with Nadal nearing the end of a hugely decorated career, one that has seen him win 22 grand slam titles, two behind Novak Djokovic at the top of the all-time list.

    Alcaraz himself has claimed two grand slams at the age of 20, winning the US Open in 2022 before following it up by claiming Wimbledon glory the following year.

    Despite the comparisons, Krajicek hopes Alcaraz doesn't think too much about comparing himself with his countryman Nadal.

    "If he starts to think about it or live up to it or try to beat it, then it will hinder his career, I think, a little bit," said Krajicek, speaking to Stats Perform at the Rotterdam Open. "But no, his name is Carlos Alcaraz. He said it himself. And he's not a new Nadal.

    "Nadal is a legend. And he's going to do what he has to do. And I think by winning two grand slams, being number one, I don't think he [Alcaraz] feels any pressure or like, I have to do this or this.

    "He's proved so much already. I don't think he has too much to prove. And he's just playing for the love of the game. He's going to win many more grand slams and be number one for many weeks also."

    Krajicek thinks Alcaraz's all-round game has the potential to take him to the top, if he hasn't reached it already.

    "I like everything about his game," Krajicek added. "I mean he's physically good, he's fast, I love his mentality on the court."

    "Also like Rafa, [he is] a very humble person and he can do it all. He can play serve and volley, he plays from the base, he's got a big forehand, he's got a very good touch on the drop shot, he can volley."

    Krajicek pointed to Alcaraz's affection for the sport of tennis as a particularly infectious part of his game.

    "He really loves the game," Krajicek continued. 

    "I think when he played the US Open, there was a huge point in the final and it was a really important point. And they were playing for number one in the world.

    "It was one set all, and Alcaraz loses the point, but the point was unbelievable. And Alcaraz smiles to his box like, 'Wow, I just played a great point, and I love this game'.

    "So for me, then I became a fan. I'm like, 'Wow, you really love this game'. That's so great to see."

  • Krajicek: It is a 'matter of time' until Alcaraz is undisputed number one Krajicek: It is a 'matter of time' until Alcaraz is undisputed number one

    It is only a "matter of time" until Carlos Alcaraz is the number one tennis player in the world, according to Richard Krajicek.

    At the age of 20, Alcaraz has already won Wimbledon and the US Open, becoming world number one in September 2022.

    He was defeated in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open to kick off this year's grand slams, though, failing to win any of the three tournaments in which he has played in 2024.

    However, former world number four Krajicek believes Alcaraz is on his way to becoming the best, despite dropping to number two in the world rankings.

    "His potential is very high," Krajicek told Stats Perform. "I think he's the future number one.

    "I'm not saying anything special because he's beaten everybody. He beat Djokovic three times out of the last four times they played. He beat Medvedev from being two sets to love down, which shows how mentally and physically strong he is.

    "So for me, it's a matter of time until he becomes number one. I think he can play on all surfaces, maybe clay is his worst surface but all the other surfaces you would say he's a title contender."

    With the 'Big Three' of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic already retired or nearing the end of their storied careers, there's been much discussion over who will fill their boots.

    Alcaraz has already proved his abilities, while 22-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner claimed Australian Open glory to kick off this year having reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2023.

    Krajicek feels those two will lead the way for the next era of men's tennis, saying: "It's difficult to say who the next generation will be, but I think Alcaraz and Sinner will have a good rivalry. They already have played unbelievable matches.

    "Of course, Alcaraz has already been number one, won two Grand Slams. Sinner is now slowly coming also to that level. He is number four, maybe number three after this week."

    However, Krajicek has reservations over whether the likes of Alcaraz and Sinner can reach the legendary status of the 'Big Three'.

    "To really have the same kind of rivalry, I don't know if that's possible," Krajicek added. "I mean, together, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic won 66 Grand Slams. That's incredible. In every Grand Slam, they were in the final or winning. It's just amazing.

    "I don't know if it's possible to have two players or three players that basically win every Grand Slam they play. But I believe those two are going to be the two biggest names for the next couple years."

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