Rafael Nadal has won a Grand Slam title in 10 straight years. The US Open will be his last chance to extend the streak to 11. But despite being healthy, this has been his most difficult season, losing early at the Australian and Wimbledon, and falling to Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals at the French.
Nadal has three titles, but they are of the smallish variety at Hamburg, Stuttgart and Buenos Aires. And his ranking, which dipped to No. 10, stands at No. 8.
But the 29-year-old remains resolute as he tries to win a third US Open.
“It’s obvious that I will be arrogant today saying I will win the US Open after the year I have had, but I will say I feel better than most of the season,” Nadal said. “We’ll see if it’s enough. I enjoy the fact that I am here. Last year I couldn’t say that. In terms of tennis and mentality, I am close to be where I want to be.
“My confidence is fine. I think I’ve been playing better than what the results say the past couple of tournaments. I’m doing things well. It’s always the same after losing some matches during the year to find the momentum again. I’m in this process and I know I am better than months ago.”
Nadal’s decline has critics demanding the 14-time champion hire new voices to his team. Nadal, though, only blames himself.
“I have [had] an amazing career with the team that I have today, the same team from the beginning,” he said. “So my feeling is if something’s not working well it’s not because of your team — it’s because of myself. The one thing I have to change is myself.”
Nadal will be the 8th seed when the US Open begins on Monday. As an 8 seed, he could face Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray or Roger Federer in the quarterfinals.
“One of my best things during the whole of my career has been my mental strength,” Nadal said. “It is something I was not able to find that consistency during this year, but I start to see that I am again with that mentality, with that self-confidence.”
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