Rafael Nadal: Australian Open star will push himself to the limit – Mats Wilander
Rafael Nadal reacts to winning the French Open title
Rafael Nadal will push himself to the limit in order to win the Australian Open, according to Mats Wilander. The Spaniard got his campaign off to a winning start with victory over Laslo Djere today. And he’s now one step closer to beating Roger Federer’s Grand Slam record.
Nadal went into the match with concerns lingering over a back injury.
But the Spaniard was far too strong for his Serbian opponent, winning 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 to book his place in the second round.
Nadal changed his serve in order to avoid aggravating a back injury, one that recently ruled him out of three ATP Cup matches.
And Wilander, speaking on Eurosport, expressed a belief the veteran will push himself to the limit in order to achieve more Grand Slam glory.
“His past injury issues ahead of the Australian Open could come from the fact he has to work on hard courts for a couple of months getting ready for Australia, that’s the first thing,” Wilander said.
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“You would think he would be more injured during the clay court season because he plays so many more matches, we know Rafael Nadal likes to play a lot of matches, likes to get his confidence.
“Maybe when he trains, I can see also that he pushes himself harder because he needs that confidence and he needs to be out there.
“We have seen him during tournaments hitting ball after ball after ball and the other players don’t do that – he works really hard, even during majors.
“It could be a combination of hard courts and practising, needs more repetition and pushes himself hard.
“This is Rafa Nadal, this is what he has done throughout his whole career and he is going to push himself to the limit.”
Nadal admitted he was delighted with his performance after the match against Deere, saying: “It’s been a tough 15 days for me because I had some tough issues with the back so I needed to survive today.
“That’s what I did. I tried to be focused all the time, tried to get through. I wish him all the best for the season.
“For me personally, I’m happy to be through to the second round. I did a good job today. Straight sets, that’s what I needed.
“I’m here to try my best as always. I can’t say much more. Let’s go day by day. Today I was able to find a way to be through. That’s given me a chance to have one more day tomorrow.
“It’s the work of every day trying to get ready. It wasn’t ideal preparation for me but I’m still alive. That’s the main thing.
“I’m enjoying being here again in this amazing country and just want to be here as long as possible.”
Victory for Nadal at the Australian Open would see him move out in front of Federer when it comes to Grand Slam titles.
But Nick Kyrgios has fired shots at the 34-year-old by claiming both he and Novak Djokovic pale in comparison to the Swiss star.
“All great in their own way, obviously,” he said.
“I don’t think we have ever seen someone maybe so dominant in their period of time as Novak, like he went on that obviously 60-match winning streak or something really crazy.
“I think in my opinion I believe Roger is the greatest of all time. With his skill set, the way he plays the game, I think it’s pure.
“I actually think talent-wise Nadal and Djokovic aren’t even close to Roger. Talent-wise, just purely based on talent the way Federer plays, his hands, his serving, his volleys, untouchable.
“Rafa you will never see someone so dominant on one surface ever. I don’t think we will ever see that amazing accomplishment on clay, the best clay courter of all time.
“It’s funny, because I think Roger is the greatest of all time but not the greatest of the era because his head-to-head against Rafa is not great. But it’s a tough one.
“Me personally, I played them all.
“I actually think Andy for me was tougher than Novak to play. I have only played Novak twice. I have played Andy six times and I’m 1-5.”
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