ABU DHABI, January 1 – Rafael Nadal is confident he will be “very competitive” in 2016 after a difficult 2015 during which the world number five struggled with his early form.
The Spaniard made a strong push at the end of last season to finish inside the top-five but his results in 2015 were the worst he has recorded in more than a decade as he admitted he was struggling with confidence.
But the 29-year-old revealed he had a strong off season where he practised hard in Mallorca and is ready to step on the court at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition event in Abu Dhabi on Friday before heading to Doha for his official season-opener.
“The off season has been great. In Mallorca we had unbelievable weather and we were able to practise as much as we wanted,” he told reporters in the UAE capital on Thursday.
“I had the chance to enjoy it. I’m happy for everything. I feel that I worked well enough, I finished the 2015 season with good feelings and I just keep practising with these positive feelings. I’m excited to start another new season. I feel myself well and I hope to be ready for what’s coming.
“I don’t know if I’ll start well from the beginning but I feel ready. Then the results you never know what’s going on. But I feel that I’m doing the right things, I’m playing well and I hope to start with good feelings.
“I’m going to be passionate. I’m confident that I’m going to be very competitive.”
Having already successfully launched numerous comebacks throughout a career that has been marred with injury, Nadal is not viewing his current situation in similar light.
“Not a big comeback, I am number five in the world actually,” he said of what he expected of himself in 2016.
“It seems like I’m number 50 or something like this. I didn’t have the best season possible last year. But without having the best season possible, to be able to finish number five is actually not bad news.
“I’m happy the way I finished the season. I don’t expect an amazing comeback, I expect an improvement of my level of tennis and my level of competition and if I made that happen I hope to be competing for the good things.”
World number one Novak Djokovic will also commence his season in Doha next week and the Serb, whose tremendous 2015 saw him win three more Grand Slams and put together one of the most impressive 11 months of tennis in history, will be looking to pick up where he left off.
Asked if he expects another dominant display from Djokovic, Nadal said: “What Novak has been doing the last couple of years is just amazing and we have to congratulate him for that.
“If he is able to maintain that kind of level then only thing that you can say is applaud him. That’s it. The rest of the players, we work hard and I hope to be competitive enough to compete against everybody this year, including Novak, and we’ll see if I can make that happen.”