Why United Cup is key for Nadal ahead of Australian Open

Rafael Nadal is part of the Spanish team that will compete in the United Cup, which begins on Thursday, December 29 in Australia

Rafael Nadal Rafael Nadal (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

This Wednesday morning, Rafael Nadal posted a photo of himself on his Instagram account where he can be seen training in Sydney, one of the three cities that will host the United Cup from December 29. The Spaniard arrived Tuesday in Australia to participate in the first edition of this team tournament that will mark the beginning of the 2023 season.


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At 36 years old, the man with 22 Grand Slam titles is about to start the 22nd season of his professional career. He left 2022 with a victory over Casper Ruud in the ATP Finals but an elimination in the group stage in Turin and a season that did not last as long as he would have hoped. But having played a few exhibition matches in South America in the pre-season, he hopes to start well in 2023, as he said in a press conference.

“Always the beginning of the season are exciting,” he said. “For everybody, [it] is a new thing, all the doubts, how the things [are] going to go. Even if I don’t know how many seasons I have on the tour, beginnings are always different.

“[I have the] highest motivation to try to start well. It’s always important to start well for me, for the confidence. Last few months haven’t been easy for me. Just try to have the right practice here before the tournament starts, then, of course, try to help the team. Main thing for me now is recover the positive feelings on court, being competitive. I hope to. I am ready to make that happen, but let’s see.”

Nadal: Djokovic being in Australia is good for tennis

Winner of the Australian Open in 2022, Nadal will use the United Cup to arrive in Melbourne in form and try to retain his title. At 36 years old, the Spaniard is close to the end of his career and journalists have asked him about the possibility that this will be his last trip to Australia as a professional player – but he evidently hopes not.

“As a professional, you never know. I mean, hopefully not. When you are at the age of 36, you never know when [is] going to be the last one. It’s obvious, but don’t like to talk about that because I am not in that mood now. Just focus on try to play at the highest level possible and give myself possibility to keep being competitive, to fight for anything.

“That’s my goal now. Not thinking about it being my last time here. If that’s the last time, let’s try to enjoy as much as possible. Let’s try to create something special, no?

“But, no, I am happy doing what I am doing. I’m looking forward to keep doing this.”

And he’s looking forward to seeing an old rival in Melbourne.

“Novak is here. Good for tennis. Good for probably the fans. Let’s see, no? Best players on court always win.”

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