Fit Nadal eager for career Grand Slam shot


NEW YORK, August 31 – Rafael Nadal declared himself 100 percent fit for the US Open after battling knee tendinitis for three months, the Spaniard eager to make the most of his first chance to complete a career Grand Slam.RAFA_NADAL_On the eve of Monday’s start of the year’s final major, the reigning Australian Open champion and US Open third seed said he has fully recovered from an injury that kept him from defending his 2008 Wimbledon title.

"I’m 100 percent well to play this tournament. I don’t know if I’m playing at my best level, but I am 100 percent," Nadal said.

"The knees are perfect right now. I don’t have any problem."

Four-time French Open champion Nadal would love a US Open title to complete a career Slam and join Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver and Roy Emerson as the only men to win each of the four major titles.

"For me to have the title here doesn’t change my career, but if I had the title here, finish the cycle, it would be unbelievable," Nadal said.

"But we haven’t started the tournament yet. Right now, I really can’t think about that."

Nadal roared through the early season, defeating Federer in the Australian Open final and taking titles at Indian Wells, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome.

But his bid for a fifth consecutive Roland Garros crown failed when he lost to Sweden’s Robin Soderling in the round of 16. After the loss, Nadal took time away for his knees to heal and was forced miss Wimbledon.

"I was at home recovering," Nadal said. "Maybe I was injured in the worst moment of the season. But at the same time, I must have been in Mallorca in the best moment of the season, too."

Nadal returned at Montreal, losing to Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-finals, and then reached the semi-finals at Cincinnati, losing to Novak Djokovic in his final US Open tuneup event.

"I’m very happy with how I did in the first two tournaments," Nadal said. "I don’t know the level of confidence, but it’s much better than what I expected when I started to play in Montreal.

"When you come back after an injury, you always start slow. You have to be progressing, but I’m normal right now."

During Nadal’s absence, Britain’s Andy Murray moved past him into the world number two ranking.

But that setback has not dimmed Nadal’s desire to reach the final, where another matchup with Federer could await.

"Psychologically for me now, I’m perfect. I came back with more energy than ever," said the Spaniard.

"Probably I needed some time to be ready, to get the rhythm, to play my best tennis, but the energy and the attitude is 100 percent."

Nadal, 23, plays his first match against France’s Richard Gasquet. He could face French seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals and Murray in the semi-finals.