Rafael Nadal has a simple mindset for this weekend's ATP Finals.
By Richard Pagliaro
Rafael Nadal maintains a simple mindset in his quest for his first ATP Finals championship: Accept the challenge.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion owns 86 career titles yet only two have come indoors. The king of clay won his lone indoor hard-court title 15 years ago at the Madrid Masters, which was formerly played on hard courts before becoming a clay-court event.
The second-seeded Spaniard opens on Sunday against seventh-seeded Andrey Rublev at the O2 Arena.
Rublev, who grew up looking up to the Spanish left-hander, has won an ATP-best five titles this season, while Nadal has played just four indoor matches this year.
Still, the 13-time Roland Garros champion said breaking the glass ceiling and winning the season-ending indoor title calls for action not excuses.
“We can find excuses or reasons, but at the end of the day the numbers are the numbers," Nadal said of his indoor struggles. "I think I play less indoors than other surfaces without a doubt if we compare indoors to outdoors in my tennis career. The indoor surfaces have not been ideal for my tennis game since the beginning of my career.
"I think I’m able to play a little bit better the last couple of years indoors without a doubt. That’s the numbers I can’t say something different. I hope to change that this week. I'm going to keep trying my best as I did all my tennis career and I hope to give myself chances."
The typically faster blue hard court elicits a lower bounce which does not reward the second-ranked Spaniard’s twisting topspin nearly as much as some outdoor hard courts. Nadal’s deep court positioning on return can make it challenging for him to wrench control of rallies when he’s behind.
The fact that most indoor events come at the end of the year when Nadal's body can be banged up from a physical season has been another roadblock in his ATP Finals quest. Nadal, who scored his lone Top 10 win in the Roland Garros final when he demolished world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, isn't looking past Rublev.
"I don’t know how close I am to perfect preparation," Nadal said. "I try to fight hard every single match in Bercy. I play four matches already on this surface.
"Hopefully that can help me here. I hope to be ready to accept the challenge to play against such a difficult opponent like Rublev in the first round."
Photo credit: Rolex Paris Masters Facebook
Source: Tennis – Tennis Now