The King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, returns to his favorite surface tonight at the Rio Open. After a disappointing Australian Open where he lost to Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals, Nadal is excited but cautious to be back on the dirt.
“During my career, I try to have the mentality to not only be all day doing what is strictly for tennis,” Nadal said last week. “I think one of the things I always say during my career is that I have been since 16 years old travelling and doing what I have to do, but at the same time I never lost the opportunity to enjoy life.
“I’m feeling well physically,” he said. “I don’t know if I’m ready to win here. I’m going to try to be ready for Tuesday – to be competitive; to have good chances – and after that we’ll see what’s going on.”
Nadal, who is the defending champion, has never lost in the country of Brazil (14-0) winning titles in Costa do Sauipe in 2005 (d. A. Martin), Sao Paulo (d. Nalbandian) in 2013 and Rio last year (d. Dolgopolov).
Last season Nadal compiled a 25-3 record on clay, winning three (Rio, Madrid, Roland Garros) of his four 2015 titles on the surface. The Mallorcan native has the best clay court record (318-24, .930) in the Open Era and is an outstanding 291-14 (.954) since 2005. He has won 16 of his last 17 matches on the surface, losing to Novak Djokovic in the Rome final.g
Nadal will open his title defense against Brazil’s No. 1 Thomaz Bellucci. Nadal, though, has lost his last three matches against left-handed players.
Over the weekend, Nadal and countryman David Ferrer hit the famed Rio Carnival.
“It was the first time we had the chance to enjoy the Rio Carnaval and it has been an unforgettable experience,” said Nadal. “There was unbelievable positive energy [from] everyone. Everyone was singing and dancing; it was fantastic for me to have the chance to enjoy this unique experience.”
You Might Like:
Juan Martin Del Potro Returns In Delray Beach Tonight!
Maria Sharapova Talks About New Coach Jimmy Connors
There Will Be An Ernests Gulbis Appearance Tonight In Memphis!
Rafa Returns And The Expectations Are… ?
Serena Returns Tonight In Stanford; Berdych, Raonic, Isner Begin In Washington