Rafael Nadal knows he has a lot of grounds to cover in 2016, and he showed the extent of his preparation on Friday at the Mubadala exhibition match with a hard-fought 6-3 6-7 6-3 win over compatriot, David Ferrer.
Nadal, seeded 5 and with over 10,000 points behind world No.1, Novak Djokovic, believes he played like someone who was already into six months of the season instead of it been his first match of the season.
Speaking after the victory, Nadal said, ““I started very well. It was a great match I think.
“First match of the season and the rhythm and intensity of the game is like after six months of the season,” he added.
The former world No.1 won only three tournaments in 2015; Hamburg, Stuttgart and Buenos Aires, due to an injury-infested season, but he said he is now feeling well and ready to battle all the top guys for all the top prizes in 2016.
“I’m working hard to be at the level of these players. I know that when I was playing well during my career I was ready to compete against all of these guys. And I feel good now. So let’s see. I feel ready to compete.”
Nadal played well enough in the last three months of 2015 to make the semi-final of the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour finals, where he lost to Djokovic and he said not taking a break was intended to ensure that he starts 2016 very well.
“A few things. I didn’t stop, second and the most important thing is that since three or four months I am playing much better and I’m feeling good on court and today was a good confirmation of that in the first match of the season.”
Nadal will play defending champion, Milos Raonic in the final after Raonic saw off Stan Wawrinka 7-5 7-5.
The Australian Open kicks off on January 18 where the Spaniard will be expected to consolidate his sharp form.