Rafael Nadal: ‘The Australian Open is much more important than any player’By Jan 15, 2022
Carlos Moya: Rafael Nadal motivated for more big wins after Australian Open triumphBy Feb 02, 2022
Ashleigh Barty's Australian Open final triumph garners huge ratings Down UnderBy Jan 31, 2022
22 Thoughts on the 2022 Australian Open: Aussie triumphs, American surges, and much ado about DjokovicBy Jan 31, 2022
Rafael Nadal turned his Australian Open history from tragedy to triumph over five hours, for a 21st Grand Slam titleBy Jan 30, 2022
When you strike at a king: Daniil Medvedev couldn't put away Rafael Nadal in an Australian Open final that rewrote tennis historyBy Jan 30, 2022
Men's Australian Open Final Preview: Daniil Medvedev vs. Rafael NadalBy Jan 29, 2022
Special Ks: Nick Kyrgios, Thansai Kokkinakis win Australian Open men's doubles titleBy Jan 29, 2022
When the chips were down against Danielle Collins, old-school Ash Barty won in a new-school wayBy Jan 29, 2022
Ash Barty honors hero Evonne Goolagong with best possible title: a seismic, drought-snapping Australian OpenBy Jan 29, 2022
Rafael Nadal: ‘The Australian Open is much more important than any player’
The Spaniard is taking things “day by day” as he prepares for historic Grand Slam bid.
Published Jan 15, 2022
WATCH: Tennis Channel Live discusses Djokovic's Visa being canceled a second time.
As rival Novak Djokovic’s visa saga drags on, Rafael Nadal prefers to keep his focus on the task at hand: the Australian Open, which begins on Monday, will go on “with or without” the World No. 1.
The sixth seed spoke to press ahead of the year’s first Grand Slam, where he is looking to claim a record-breaking 21st major title. Nadal’s historic bid—along with many of the sport’s other unfolding storylines—has been largely overshadowed by the question of Djokovic’s participation in the event.
Although the men’s singles draw has already been made and features defending champion Djokovic as the top seed, Australia’s Federal Court may still move forward with his visa cancellation on Sunday.
“It's very clear that Novak Djokovic is one of the best players [in] history, without a doubt. But there is no one player in history that's more important than an event, no?” Nadal told press.
“[The] Australian Open is much more important than any player. If he's playing finally, okay. If he's not playing, the Australian Open will be [a] great Australian Open with or without him.”
“I wish him all the best,” he added. “I really respect him, even if I am not agree with a lot of things that he did the last couple of weeks.”
Nadal has been keeping his expectations manageable as he prepares for his first Grand Slam in six months. The Spaniard’s 2021 season was derailed by a foot injury, and he has only played three matches since bowing out in the Roland Garros semifinal.
He has already shaken off the rust in Melbourne, claiming his first ATP title of the year last week with a win over Maxime Cressy in the final. Nadal, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 during the off-season, is seeking to win his second Australian Open trophy.
“I just want to go day by day,” he said. “Of course, I'm going to keep trying my best to improve. But practices helps. [To] be practicing here with the guys, and play three matches last week, let's see how things start in the Australian Open.”
Sixth-seeded Nadal starts his campaign against American Marcos Giron when the top half of the draw gets underway.