Rafael Nadal arrived at the Shanghai Rolex Masters via China’s “scenic route” travelling by train the evening before from Beijing where he took the doubles title with partner Pablo Carreno Busta.
After three hours on the practice court, Nadal said he was satisfied with the current state of his game, having come back from a wrist injury that forced him to withdraw from this year’s French Open.
“I happy the way that I was playing before the injury, and when I came back I played good matches and other ones not that good,” he said. “But as always, just to keep working hard as I did today, as I did yesterday, as I do every day to recover the level of my tennis before the injury.”
Since the French Open, Nadal has only played four tournaments, with mixed results; he reached the Bronze Medal play-off at the Olympics but won the doubles Gold Medal but then fell in the Round of 16 at the US Open.
He comes to Shanghai after a quarterfinal loss last week to Grigor Dimitrov in Beijing. “The goal is just try to finish the season the better way possible,” explained Nadal. “Having very painful injury in the worst moment of the year, it’s tough (getting) back. You need to be back because of events that you cannot miss, but that’s it.”
With the exceptionally strong level of play and the relentless schedule of the game these days, any type of comeback requires reacquiring self-belief as well as repelling charges from a new crop of players eager to occupy any vacated spot. For Nadal, there’s no secret to regaining confidence.
“Confidence is when you win, that’s simple and easy, no? Losing, you don’t have confidence. Winning, you have confidence,” he said.
Nadal also highlighted his interest in the “NextGen” players such as Alexander Zverev, Nick Kyrgios and company who are gaining quite a following. He acknowledged the positive impact of new faces in the game.
“We have been playing on the tour a lot of years without new generation that we have today,” Nadal said. “Is true that there is a new generation of very young players that they are so good. So that’s something that happened during the history of our sport. This is the normal thing that should happen, must happen, and finally happened. So is good for tennis and is good for the tour and for the fans.”
This week, the Spaniard will look to repeat his best performance in Shanghai, reaching the finals in 2009 (l. to Davydenko) and two other semifinals, including last year, but he’s not going to put undue pressure on himself along the way.
“No, not a lot of pressure, no? My only pressure is try to feel myself well on court, enjoy doing what I am doing, and that’s what I’m doing, no?” he said.
After a bye in the first round, Rafa will start against Viktor Troicki.