Rafa Nadal’s Australian Open preparations remain on track after beating US qualifier Maxime Cressy 7-6 (6) 6-3 in the Melbourne Summer Set final.
I feel privileged and very lucky to be here again. I’m coming back from a tough time in terms of injuries so I couldn’t be happier. It means a lot to be back and with a trophy in your hands Rafa Nadal
Nadal, who was making his first tour appearance in five months with a left foot injury, was using the level 250 event to train for the first grand slam matches of the season which begins in Melbourne, the January 17.
As a result, he was a bit rusty on the court this week and was pushed hard by the serve and volley game of the US qualifier, but in the end the Spaniard’s greatest experience and his art of tennis came to an end. turned out too much for the 24-year-old.
It was Nadal’s 89th title on the tour and he maintains his record of winning at least one single per year for the past 19 seasons.
It was a big chance for Cressy who had gone through two qualifying rounds to reach the main draw and it was no surprise that he started nervously against one of the all-time greats.
But he held on and gained confidence in the first set and even held a set point in the tie-break.
But Nadal upped his game not only to pocket the set, but to then pull off a convincing winner after an hour and 44 minutes.
The Mallorcan, who also contracted Covid-19 after playing an exhibition in Abu Dhabi revealed he was unable to get out of bed for days, but once he started to recover he had no doubts that he would come to Australia to try to win his second title at Melbourne Park.
“I want to thank the whole organization here,” Nadal said when handing over the trophy. “I feel privileged and very lucky to be here again. I’m coming back from a tough time in terms of injuries so I couldn’t be happier. It means a lot to be back and with a trophy in your hands.
“This court has always been very, very special to me,” added the 35-year-old. “The Rod Laver Arena is very, very special to everyone and it’s even more special because of you guys. You guys are a great crowd and I can’t thank you enough.