After Barcelona Triumph, Nadal Eager For More Home Success
Just one week after his marathon three-hour, 38-minute Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell final triumph against Stefanos Tsitsipas, Rafael Nadal discussed the confidence he took from his 12th title run at the ATP 500 ahead of his bid for a sixth Mutua Madrid Open trophy.
Playing just his third event of the 2021 ATP Tour season, Nadal dropped multiple sets en route to the Barcelona trophy (3) for the first time. The Spaniard was tested from his opening match in Catalonia, but he was able to play his way out of trouble when he needed to, including when he was down championship point against Tsitsipas in the final.
“Barcelona [was] an important week for me. Without playing my best since the beginning, I was able to be passionate, to stay positive and to accept the challenge [and] try to win matches without playing my best,” Nadal said. “I was able to achieve another important title in my career. That's important for my confidence.
“I really believe that winning these kinds of tournaments when you are not playing that well can then make a big difference for the next ones. I feel that that was a positive week. Now is another week, and I hope to be ready.”
Nadal will be aiming to add to his 52-12 tournament record this year. The 35-time ATP Masters 1000 champion most recently lifted the Madrid trophy in 2017, with a straight-sets final victory against Dominic Thiem. The pair could meet in this year’s semi-finals.
Due to Madrid’s high altitude, Nadal will need to adapt to the quicker conditions at La Caja Magica if he is to equal Novak Djokovic’s record haul of 36 Masters 1000 titles. As he did in Barcelona last week, Nadal will look to harness the support of a reduced home crowd in Madrid.
“[Madrid] is the most difficult event [on clay] for me, everybody knows. But at the same time [it] is one of the most emotional events for me, playing at home,” Nadal said. “We [are] going to have a chance to play with a crowd again. So that means a lot to me. [I am] super happy to be back here.
“In terms of tennis, [it] is true that here the situation is a little bit tougher. [I have] less control. [It is] more difficult to be under control in the points. I had some success here... I had some good tournaments. I'm excited to be back and I hope to be ready to play well.”
Nadal will open his 18th Madrid campaign against #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz or fellow left-hander Adrian Mannarino. No matter which opponent he faces in the second round, the 34-year-old’s preparation will remain unchanged.
“My mindset is always the same,” Nadal said. “Arrive to a tournament, have the right preparation, and try to be ready to compete at the highest level [from] the beginning.”