Rafael Nadal prepares for Australian Open by winning Melbourne tournament without losing a set

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Rafael Nadal completed his first tournament since August without losing a set, sending a strong message to his rivals ahead of the Australian Open.

Nadal won the Melbourne Summer Set trophy on Sunday after beating US qualifier Maxime Cressy 7-6 (6), 6-3 in the final.

This extended the Spaniard’s 35-year streak of winning at least one ATP Tour title for a 19th consecutive year.

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The world number 6 returned to the tour this week after a foot injury cut short his 2020 season. And while Novak Djokovic is still awaiting a decision on whether he will be allowed to enter the country to participate in the Australian Open, Nadal’s preparations for the first major tournament of the year are off to a perfect start.

“I’m coming back from a tough time in terms of injuries so I couldn’t be happier,” Nadal told the crowd at the trophy presentation.

It means a lot to be back and with a trophy in your hands.

Nadal won the Australian Open in 2009, but has lost four times in the final since then, with two of those losses for Djokovic.

Nadal denounced Djokovic this week for not having been vaccinated against Covid-19, saying the world number 1 should “follow the rules”.

“The world has suffered enough,” Nadal said Thursday. “Get the shot. If he wanted to, he would play here in Australia with no problem.”

Against Cressy, ranked 112th, Nadal could not convert any of his five break points in the first set and then had to save a set point in the tie breaker. The Spaniard then came back from a breakage in the second set to clinch the victory.

Cressy for making his first ATP Tour final after beating second seed Reilly Opelka and third seed Gregor Dimitrov along the way.

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