Rafael Nadal: ‘It is vital to have a base from a young age’

Novak Djokovic threw all in Majors and qualifying records in 2021, playing at a high level and winning 27 of 28 matches in four most notable events. Novak missed a calendar Grand Slam in New York, losing to Daniil Medvedev in the title clash in straight sets, but still doing enough to equal Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for 20 major titles. Novak played just three Masters 1000 events this season, suffered an early defeat in Monte Carlo and reached the final in Rome, losing it to Rafael Nadal in three sets. On his way to formless and matchless Paris from the US Open, Novak showed his greatness again and claimed the 37th Masters 1000 crown, getting ahead of Rafael Nadal. Novak defeated Marton Fucsovics in three sets before Gael Monfils overtook him in the third round, propelling the Serbian to his 87th Masters 1000 quarter-final. Djokovic became the third player with that many appearances in the last eight. at the Masters 1000 level, matching Roger Federer and behind Rafael Nadal, who is at the top with 97 quarter-finals at this level. The five-time Paris Masters champion defeated Fucsovics 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours for a winning start. Djokovic earned 20 more points than Fucsovics, who did his best to keep in touch with the world’s leading player. The Serbian fired 24 winners and 23 unforced errors, outscoring the Hungarian in shorter rallies by up to four strokes to take home victory and advance to the third round. Novak lost serve twice and delivered four breaks of 11 chances to cross the finish line first and make a winning start. Djokovic broke in the second game of the match and moved 4-1 up front with a no-return serve.

Rafa will play at the Abu Dhabi exhibition

With his recovery from a foot injury gathering speed, Rafael Nadal has officially announced that he will play at the Abu Dhabi exhibition next month. “I understand that there are people who do not want to be vaccinated, but it seems a bit selfish to me,” Nadal said. “We have suffered a lot. We do not know one hundred percent the effects of vaccines, but we do have to trust the doctors, which we do know it is the effect of the virus if we are not vaccinated. It seems that today we are the country that is least affected by the virus and I think it is because we have a large part of the population vaccinated.” Rafael Nadal then proceeded to talk about mental strength, and how having a solid temperament can help overcome challenges in training and match-like situations. “It [mental strength] is a very important aspect and more [so] in a sport like tennis,” Nadal said. “It is vital to have a base from a young age. People tell me that I am very strong mentally, but I also suffer, like everyone else and I see it very black [sometimes]. But the essence of sport is that despite seeing something [as] almost impossible, you can [still] achieve it.”

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