Three-time tournament champion Rafael Nadal met the media yesterday, saying he’s feeling better than he did a year ago when he lost to Milos Raonic in three sets in the quarterfinals.
“I’m much better than last year in terms of personal feelings,” Nadal said. “Last year I was so nervous when I was competing and this year is a different story. I lost, yes, a few matches that I think I could win. But I was prepared, and I don’t have those very negative feelings in terms of being without control of my breathing, or being too nervous.”
But after a tough start to the season, questions mount.
“I lost three matches at the beginning of the season that I could have won and probably should have won,” Nadal added. “I have to keep working hard. I feel ready to keep going mentally and physically too. I’m excited to be here at Indian Wells, a tournament that I really love so much and I’m enjoying these days before the competition starts.”
Nadal also was bombarded with questions about Maria Sharapova’s shock announcement, saying despite it being a mistake, she should be punished.
“It is difficult to imagine that something like this can happen. But mistakes happen,” he told AFP. “She should be punished.
“I want to believe it is a mistake for Maria. She didn’t want to do it. But obviously it is negligence. She must pay for it.”
And he responded to his own doping rumors which he has grown tired of.
“I have never had the temptation of doing something wrong. I am very far from that, doping,” he said.
“I am a completely clean guy. I worked so hard during my career that when I get injured I never take nothing to be back quicker.
“I heard it a few times again about doping from my person and I am a little bit tired with that,” Nadal said, adding that he sees himself as an ambassador for tennis and wouldn’t tarnish his image as a role model for young players.
“I believe in the sport and the values of the sport,” he added.
“The sport is an example for society. It is an example for the kids and if I am doing something that goes against that, I will be lying to myself, not lying to my opponents.”
On Sunday, Nadal will meet either Victor Estrella Burgos or Gilles Muller.
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