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Rafael Nadal continues his pursuit of a record 21st Grand Slam title after beating Fabio Fognini on Monday at the Australian Open.

Nadal: 'I Am Very Motivated To Win Grand Slams'

Spaniard to play Tsitsipas in quarter-finals on Wednesday

Rafael Nadal, whose back issues continue to improve at the Australian Open, says that he remains hungry to win titles ahead of his 43rd Grand Slam championship quarter-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“I play tennis,” said Nadal. “I like tennis. 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… [But] I have never been obsessed [with] trying to be the best. I just do [it] my way. That’s worked for me.

“I think 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.

The Spaniard superstar, who captured the 2009 title (d. Federer), beat No. 16 seed Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park.

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Nadal, a five-time year-end No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, is bidding to capture a record 21st Grand Slam singles crown at Melbourne Park and become the first man in the Open Era (since 1968) to win each of the four major championships twice.

“If we compare how I was five days ago and how I am [with] today's situation, it's different, and my perspective and excitement is completely different, too,” admitted Nadal, who increased his time on the practice courts yesterday in preparation for the business end of the Australian Open.

“I enjoy [the sport and] I give my best always,” added Nadal. “I try to compete at my highest standards every day… For me, the main thing is [to] come back home with personal satisfaction that I gave it everything. That's what gives me happiness and makes me stay calm.”

When asked about his perspective on the privilege of being able to play during the global COVID-19 pandemic, Nadal said: “We are lucky to be able to keep doing our job without a doubt. We can't complain at all.

“It's not perfect at all, but players still have the chance to compete and to keep going… We are important [people] in this circus, but there are a lot of important people here that need the Tour to keep going… [and] it's important to find solutions to protect the players - that are in such a very difficult situation - [so they can] play most of the weeks.”

Nadal leads Tsitsipas 6-1 in their ATP Head2Head series. The Spaniard has won their past three matches — at the 2019 Internazionali BNL d’Italia semi-finals in Rome, and also at the 2019 and 2020 Nitto ATP Finals. The Spaniard overcame Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 in the 2019 Australian Open semi-finals.

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