Australian Open

Short of match practice, Rafael Nadal hopes to be ready for Australian Open

Nadal can become only the third man in the Open Era to win all the four Slams twice.

Top seed Rafael Nadal starts the Australian Open next week for the first time in his career without playing a warm-up tournament, and no uncle Toni by his side.

But the Spanish star said Saturday he feels good and his motivation remains strong.

Nadal, who is gunning for a 17th major title but only his second Australian Open crown, was hampered by a knee injury at the tail-end of the 2017 season.

It forced him to skip the lead-up Brisbane International this month, and he has only had a one-match workout at the exhibition Kooyong Classic in Melbourne ahead of the Grand Slam starting Monday.

Yet he is unfazed and raring to go as seeks to go one better than last year when he lost an epic Melbourne Park final to Roger Federer.

“Is the first time I am here without playing an official match in my career. It’s a new situation for me. But I feel good,” said the 31-year-old, who played his first Australian Open in 2004.

“I feel that I had a good week-and-a-half of practices. I really hope to be ready. I feel myself more or less playing well.”

With so few matches under his belt ahead of the season-opening Grand Slam, he asked organisers if they could do him a special favour, and they obliged.

It saw Nadal play Austrian world number five Dominic Thiem this week on a practice court under full match conditions, with ball kids, scoreboard, and umpire.

“I wanted to play a couple of close competition matches. I played in Kooyong once. The club in Kooyong is great, but at the same time the conditions of play are completely different from here,” he explained.

“That’s my feeling. We decided to play another match. Talking with the Australian Open, yeah, they gave us the chance to play like an open practice but closer to the match for the crowd.

“We did it. It was a good practice, good feelings for both of us I think. The job was done the right way.”

Healthy and competitive

Despite his achievements in a long career, motivation for Nadal, who needs to reach the quarter-finals to be certain of retaining his world number one ranking, with Federer breathing down his neck, remains undiminished.

Not only can he clinch a 17th Grand Slam in Melbourne, but he also has the opportunity to join Roy Emerson and Rod Laver as only the third man in the Open era to win each of the four Grand Slams twice.

The only place he is yet to achieve the double is Australia.

“For me, the Australian Open always, if you are not 100% motivated to play this tournament, you probably you don’t love this sport,” he said.

But he knows anything can happen so early in the season, despite being the top ranked player in the world.

“Everyone starts from zero. I start from zero again,” he said.

“It’s the start of a new season, an exciting one. I hope to be healthy and competitive, and most important thing, I hope to enjoy tennis one more year.”

In Melbourne, Nadal is at his first major tournament in years without his uncle Toni, who coached him from childhood until after his US Open win last year.

Toni Nadal is now coaching at the Rafael Nadal Academy, with his nephew under the tutelage of Carlos Moya.

“In terms of professional things, I spoke to him few days ago, speaking about how the life going, how the tennis going,” he said of Toni.

“If I have something to ask, I ask him. If he have something to tell me, he call me and tell me.”

Support our journalism by paying for Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Bringing the glamour back to flying while keeping it affordable

The pleasure of air travel is back, courtesy of an airline in India.

Before dinner, fashionable women would retire to the powder room and suited-up men would indulge in hors d’oeuvres, surrounded by plush upholstery. A gourmet meal would soon follow, served in fine tableware. Flying, back in the day, was like an upscale party 35,000 feet up in the air.

The glamour of flying has been chronicled in Keith Lovegrove’s book titled ‘Airline: Style at 30,000 feet’. In his book, Lovegrove talks about how the mid-50s and 60s were a “fabulously glamorous time to fly in commercial airlines”. Back then, flying was reserved for the privileged and the luxuries played an important role in making travelling by air an exclusive experience.

Fast forward to the present day, where flying has become just another mode of transportation. In Mumbai, every 65 seconds an aircraft lands or takes off at the airport. The condition of today’s air travel is a cumulative result of the growth in the volume of fliers, the accessibility of buying an air ticket and the number of airlines in the industry/market.

Having relegated the romance of flying to the past, air travel today is close to hectic and borderline chaotic thanks to busy airports, packed flights with no leg room and unsatisfactory meals. With the skies dominated by frequent fliers and the experience having turned merely transactional and mundane, is it time to bid goodbye to whatever’s enjoyable in air travel?

With increased resources and better technology, one airline is proving that flying in today’s scenario can be a refreshing, enjoyable and affordable experience at the same time. Vistara offers India’s first and only experience of a three-cabin configuration. At a nominal premium, Vistara’s Premium Economy is also redefining the experience of flying with a host of features such as an exclusive cabin, 20% extra legroom, 4.5-inch recline, dedicated check-in counter and baggage delivery on priority. The best in class inflight dining offers a range of regional dishes, while also incorporating global culinary trends. Other industry-first features include Starbucks coffee on board and special assistance to solo women travellers, including preferred seating.

Vistara’s attempts to reduce the gap between affordability and luxury can also be experienced in the economy class with an above average seat pitch, complimentary selection of food and beverages and a choice of leading newspapers and publications along with an inflight magazine. Hospitality aboard Vistara is, moreover, reminiscent of Singapore Airlines’ famed service with a seal of Tata’s trust, thanks to its cabin crew trained to similarly high standards.

The era of style aboard a ‘flying boat’ seems long gone. However, airlines like Vistara are bringing back the allure of air travel. Continuing their campaign with Deepika Padukone as brand ambassador, the new video delivers a bolder and a more confident version of the same message - making flying feel new again. Watch the new Vistara video below. For your next trip, rekindle the joy of flying and book your tickets here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Vistara and not by the Scroll editorial team.