There were plenty of signs of vintage Rafael Nadal on display over the past three days in Abu Dhabi but the Spaniard refuses to get carried away regarding his level as he walks away with a fourth Mubadala World Tennis Championship crown.
After spending two and half months away from competition, Nadal beat world No10 Tomas Berdych, world No3 Milos Raonic and finally world No11 David Goffin to retain his title in the UAE capital and dispel doubts over his form following another injury-plagued season.
In a high-quality 6-4, 7-6 (5) final victory over Goffin – who had beaten world No1 Andy Murray the day before – Nadal was at his battling best, fighting off break points, firing monster forehands and moving smoothly all over centre court at Zayed Sports City on Saturday.
“I have great feelings. I played great. Three matches against three top players, to win against these kind of players, if you don’t play well it’s impossible,” an elated Nadal told reporters after his triumph.
“Having three victories is very positive news and brings me to a good level of confidence. I know I’ve been practicing so hard in Mallorca and working well but at the same time when you arrive to competition you don’t know what’s going to happen. But my real feeling is I was playing well and these three matches confirmed that.”
Still despite his results over the weekend, Nadal knows he must remain patient before evaluating his level, although he is hopeful he can compete for big titles in the coming season.
He flew to Brisbane directly from Abu Dhabi, where he joins a strong field that includes six of the world’s top-15, who are all looking to kick off their 2017 season on a high note. He will then head to Melbourne for the first grand slam of the year.
“Let’s see during the next couple of months. We cannot analyse my game for here, for Brisbane, for Australia, let’s take a period of time and let’s see how the things are going after Indian Wells and Miami let’s say,” Nadal said referring to the two Masters 1000 events staged in the United States in March.
“I would have already had the chance to play Brisbane, Melbourne, Rotterdam, Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami so it’s going to be enough tournaments to say ‘okay, I am here, I am there’.
“Especially when you don’t compete for a while and you’re coming back from injury you cannot analyse how you feel after two or three events. You need time. Let’s wait for a couple of months.
“I know I am working hard, I have the motivation to keep going, let’s be a little bit patient and keep going the same way, even if the results are positive or not that positive.
“I think the way that I worked is the way that I need to do and I believe that if I’m able to be healthy and keep working that way normally the history says that I’m going to have good chances to compete well.”
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