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Rafael Nadal greets fans at Beijing's National Tennis Center.

Golden Memories Motivate Nadal In Beijing

Spaniard is happy to return to familiar surroundings in Beijing

It’s no wonder that Rafael Nadal feels at home on the courts of Beijing’s National Tennis Center, site of the October 5-11 China Open. It was here, after all, as a 22 year old, that the Spaniard struck Olympic gold at the 2008 Summer Games.

Much has happened since. Nadal now stands side by side with Hall of Fame great Pete Sampras on 14 Grand Slam trophies, second only to Roger Federer (17). But the memories of his gold-medal-clinching 6–3, 7–6(2), 6–3 win over Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez that year have never faded. As he prepares for the ATP World Tour 500-level event in Beijing this week, those indelible world-stage moments still serve as motivation.

“Every day is an opportunity to improve,” said Nadal, currently No. 7 in the Emirates ATP Race To London and chasing a spot in next month's Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. “I take this tournament like another opportunity to play close to the way that I want to play. I have the motivation to play here at a tournament that I love. I have one of the best memories of my career in this center.”

Nadal’s third-round defeat at the hands of Italy’s Fabio Fognini this year at the US Open meant that his streak of 10 consecutive years with at least one Grand Slam crown had come to an end, his best results at the majors being quarterfinal finishes at the Australian Open and Roland Garros. But the left-hander says that he saw improvement in New York, and continues to see it in practice. And for the motivated Mallorcan, that’s all that matters.

“That is something that is important for me,” said Nadal, who is making his third straight appearance in Beijing and fifth overall. “I'm going to try my best in every single match. I going to try to do the things that I believe I need to start stronger next year.”

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