World No. 1 Rafael Nadal (Profile) is making his first appearance at the BNP Paribas Masters since 2009, when he reached the semi-finals before losing to rival Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard arrived in Paris this week prepared to finish his season strong ahead of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November.
“I’m excited to be back in Paris. Paris is a very special city for me. Probably the most special city in the world. It’s a great tournament. I haven’t had the chance to be here for different [reasons] for the past four years, so I am very happy and excited to be back.”
The Spaniard’s best performance at the year-end championships was in 2010, when he finished as runner-up to 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer. Other appearances are marred with injuries and he was not even in the Final Showdown last year due to his knee injury. Following what is arguably his best year on the tour, Nadal is looking to cap off the year with his best performance yet at the prestigious championships.
“The last tournament of the year is important,” said Nadal. “I have never had the chance to play very well in London. In 2010 I played well; the rest I played really bad. I want to try to change that.”
Nadal is coming off back-to-back tournament losses, firstly in the finals of the Beijing tournament, where he lost to Novak Djokovic after usurping his no. 1 ranking, and in the Shanghai Masters semi-final, where he lost an entertaining battle to World no. 5 Juan Martin del Potro. Nadal admits that he was motivated for those tournaments but was drained following a trying season and was unable to focus 100 percent of his effort.
“I was always motivated for this last part of the season, but I was not able to apply it well. I hope this year I can change that situation. I hope to play well here and then we’ll see.”
Rafa is motivated finish the season on top but admits that if he does not finish in the top spot, he would still consider this comeback season as one of the best in his career. He won two of the four Grand Slam titles this year (French Open and the US Open), as well as a record-tying five Masters 1000 titles to boost him back in the No. 1 spot.
“That happened for most of the tournaments this year. I did much more than what I thought. I am going to try to finish well here and in London. If I am able to play well and I finish No. 1, great. If not, it doesn’t change the season as being one of the best of my career without any doubt. I enjoyed probably more than ever [being able to] play tennis the whole year. [They have been] very emotional matches this year [because of] the situation that I had last year. All the things that happened to me are more than what I ever dreamed eight months ago, so that makes me play very relaxed with less pressure.”
Above all else, Rafa is happy that he is healthy and capable of playing elite level tennis on a regular basis.
“What makes me happy is going on court ever day with a feeling that I am healthy, with the feeling that I am playing well, and the feeling that I can lose and I can win against everybody,”