After hard-court troubles in 2018, Rafael Nadal was not confident that he would be able to deliver like he has at the Australian Open.
Rafael Nadal insists he did not expect to produce such dominant displays at the Australian Open as he had the same doubts about his ability to go far in Melbourne as everyone else.
The Spaniard endured a torrid year on the hard courts in 2018, completing just one tournament when he won the Rogers Cup, and he was then forced to withdraw from the Brisbane International at the start of this year with a thigh strain.
Rafael Nadal speaks following his impressive semifinal win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Austrlian Open
But Nadal has not dropped a set in Melbourne and reached his fifth Australian Open final with a 6-2 6-4 6-0 demolition of rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday.
The 17-time grand slam champion has been pleasantly surprised by his performance levels, telling reporters at a news conference: “It’s normal that you had doubts about me, because I had doubts about me.
“Of course, this is not a problem for me. I really understand 100 per cent, because I have the same doubts.
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“I believe that when you are older, you lose less the [level of] tennis when you are playing less. You don’t need that many matches to play well. That’s something that happened for the last two years for me.
“Probably one of the reasons is because I am practicing well when I am not competing, then that allows me to be back in action a little bit quicker. That’s all. It’s not a big reason.
“Of course, it’s an issue [to not be playing]. It’s not easy to be back after four months, five months, and play the way I am playing. Of course, I didn’t expect that at all.”
Despite the comprehensive nature of his semi-final victory, Nadal also had words of encouragement for 20-year-old Tsitsipas.
“It’s part of the game. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” he said. “He’s young. I lost enough times to know that. Everybody needs to go through that experience. Everybody needs to live this experience.”