Nadal vows to bounce back from testing year

RAFAEL NADAL
RAFAEL NADAL

ABU DHABI • Rafael Nadal is confident that he will be "very competitive" this year, after a difficult 2015 during which tennis' world No. 5 struggled with his early form.

The 29-year-old Spaniard made a strong push at the end of last season to finish inside the top five but his results over the year were the worst he has recorded in more than a decade as he admitted he was struggling with his confidence.

But he revealed on Thursday that he had a strong off-season where he practised hard in Mallorca and is ready to do well at the ongoing Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition event in Abu Dhabi, before heading to Doha for his official season-opener.

"The off-season has been great. In Mallorca we had unbelievable weather and we were able to practise as much as we wanted," he said. "I had the chance to enjoy it. I'm happy for everything.

"I'm excited to start another new season. I don't know if I'll start well from the beginning but I feel ready. I'm confident that I'm going to be very competitive."

NOT A BIG DROP

I am No. 5 in the world actually. I didn't have the best season possible last year, but to be able to finish No. 5 is actually not bad news.

RAFAEL NADAL, on his injury-hit 2015 season

Nadal has successfully launched numerous comebacks throughout a career that has been marred by injuries.

But he is not viewing his current situation in similar light.

"Not a big comeback, I am No. 5 in the world actually," he said. "I didn't have the best season possible last year, but to be able to finish No. 5 is actually not bad news."

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will also commence his season in Doha next week and the Serb, whose tremendous 2015 saw him win three more Grand Slams and put together one of the most impressive 11 months of tennis in history, will be looking to pick up where he left off.

Asked if he expects another dominant display from Djokovic, Nadal said: "If he is able to maintain that kind of level, then (the) only thing that you can say is applaud him.

"The rest of the players, we work hard and I hope to be competitive enough to compete against everybody this year, including Novak, and we'll see if I can make that happen."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2016, with the headline 'Nadal vows to bounce back from testing year'. Print Edition | Subscribe