DOHA, January 5, 2016
Second seed Rafael Nadal opened his Qatar Exxon Mobil Open campaign in Doha successfully but had to work hard, clinching a 6-7, 6-3, 6-1 victory over fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno-Busta. The world number 5 lost an opening set without any break points but capitalized on his chances in the following. Nadal served out after exactly two hours of play to set a second round meeting with Robin Haase.
“Starting the season with a victory is so important. Well, the negative thing is the condition changed a lot from here to Abu Dhabi. In Abu Dhabi it was hotter and here is colder and it has been so windy the two days of preparation for me, so I couldn’t practice the way I needed to adapt. So it was a big change in terms of ball feeling on court,” told Nadal, who captured his third Mubadala World Tennis Championship crown in Abu Dhabi last Saturday.
“But Pablo played well. I had chances in the beginning of the match but couldn’t convert. And then he played well at the end of the set. And then I think I changed a little bit at the beginning of the second. I played with a little bit higher intensity and being a little bit more aggressive, going a little bit more for the shots. When I was able to make that happen, everything changed. So very happy the way that I managed to change the dynamic of the match, and I think I finished the match playing well,” the world number 5 summarized the all-Spanish-affair, taking place in chilly conditions.
“No, it’s not too cold. It’s good weather to play tennis, but when there is wind, things change. So I think if the two previous days we’ll have the conditions of today and I was able to practice with normal conditions, I think I would have arrived to the beginning of the match with a little bit more confidence in terms of the ball feeling. But having the crazy wind we had the last two days I couldn’t practice well,” the Spaniard told and also spoke about Zinedine Zidane being appointed new manager of Nadal’s favourite football club Real Madrid.
“Zidane is history of the sport, history of football, and he’s part of the history of Real Madrid. It’s obvious that he’s good, I think, for the players, he’s good for big, one of the most important clubs of the world, Real Madrid have somebody like him on the bench managing the club, and I am happy for him. I know him. He’s a good person and humble person, and I think he deserve to be where he is today. I wish him the best of luck. I’m sorry for Benitez, that he was not having the success that he expect probably. And it’s tough to start a new project and after a few months goes out, so I feel very sorry for him. But if it needs a change, I think Zidane is the perfect position today.”
About his second round opponent, Nadal stated:
“He’s a very dangerous player. Big serve, big forehand, good volley. We’ll see. He’s a tough opponent, and I hope to be ready for it.”
In the final match on centre court, Fernando Verdasco defeated Tunesian wild card Malek Jaziri, winning 7-6, 7-6. The 32-year-old Spaniard fired 12 aces and won 75% of his first service points to set a second round clash with top-seed Novak Djokovic.