Nadal Eager For Brisbane Debut
Rafael Nadal is eager to commence his 2017 ATP World Tour season against Alexandr Dolgopolov Tuesday night in Brisbane. Such is the strength of the Brisbane International field, which features five Top 10 players, that fifth-seed Nadal does not enjoy the first-round bye afforded to Milos Raonic, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Dominic Thiem.
After flying in in the early hours of Monday morning, Nadal had his first practice session under lights Monday evening, watched by hundreds of fans who took every vantage point to get an up-close look at the former World No. 1. This is the first time that the Spaniard will be competing in Australia in the first week of the season.
“For me to be here for the first time, it's something special,’ Nadal said at an informal news conference and photo op with a koala bear on site Monday afternoon. “I'm looking forward to competing and to see the great centre court that everybody, all the players, say is so special. This year I decided to be here in Australia; I have a good connection with the people here in Australia.
“I like to know different places. It's true that Doha worked well for me in the past, but here in Brisbane is something that probably will help me to adapt quicker to the Australian conditions that are always a little bit tougher in terms of weather.”
Nadal is seeded to meet defending champion and World No. 3 Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals. But the Mallorcan is not complaining about the luck of the draw. “Nobody has an easy draw here in Brisbane. The draw is so difficult. Great players. There is no one space on the draw that you can say, ‘Okay, this draw is better’."
"All players in the main draw are tough players. You can see, first round, David Ferrer against Bernard. Tonight, Steve Johnson against Dimitrov. All matches are difficult. You need to be ready for everything if you want to play a tournament like this.”
Dolgopolov has won his past two outings against Nadal, but the lefty leads their career FedEx ATP Head2Head series 5-2. They have not played each other in 18 months.