Rafa Nadal’s Australian Open preparations remain on track after he beat American qualifier Maxime Cressy 7-6(6) 6-3 in the final of the Melbourne Summer Set.
I feel privileged and a very lucky guy to be here again. I am coming back from some challenging moments in terms of injuries, so I can’t be happier. It means a lot to be back and with a trophy in my hands Rafa Nadal
Nadal, making his first appearance on the tour in five months following a left foot injury, was using the 250 level event to gain match practice for the first grand slam of the season which starts in Melbourne, on the 17th January.
As a consequence he was a bit rusty on court this week and was pushed hard by the American qualifier’s serve and volley game but in the end the Spaniard’s greater experience and tennis craft proved too much for the 24-year-old.
It was Nadal’s 89th title on the tour and maintains his record of winning at least one singles per year these past 19 seasons.
It was a big occasion for Cressy who had come through two qualifying rounds to join the main draw and it wasn’t surprising that he started nervously against one of the game’s all-time greats.
But he held his own and grew in confidence during the first set and even held a set point in the tie-break.
But Nadal raised his game a notch to not only pocket the set, but to then run out a convincing winner after one-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 on end, but once he began to recover he had no doubt he would come to Australia to try to win his second title at Melbourne Park.
“I want to thank all the organisation here,” Nadal said during the trophy presentation. “I feel privileged and a very lucky guy to be here again. I am coming back from some challenging moments in terms of injuries, so I can’t be happier. It means a lot to be back and with a trophy in my hands.
“This court has always been very, very special for me,” the 35-year-old added. “The Rod Laver Arena is very, very special for everyone and it is more special because of you guys. You guys are a great crowd and I can’t thank you enough.”