Nadal's Australian Open preparations on track with Melbourne title

Nadal decided to play the lower level tournament to get some match practice after missing much of 2021 with injury and Covid.

Nadal will be aiming to break the record for most Grand Slam singles titles at this month's Australian Open.   -  AFP

Rafael Nadal's Australian Open preparations remained on track after he beat American Maxime Cressy 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 in the final of the Melbourne Summer Set on Sunday.

Nadal decided to play the lower level tournament to get some match practice after missing much of 2021 with injury and Covid.

He has not been fluent this week and was pushed hard by the American qualifier, but Nadal had too much experience for the 24-year-old serve-volleyer.

It was Nadal's 89th title on the ATP tour, and the win ensures he has won at least one singles crown every year for the past 19 years.

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Cressy, who had to win through two rounds of qualifying to make the main draw, started nervously but became more confident as the match wore on.

The American had a set point in the tiebreak but couldn't convert, and once Nadal claimed the first set, the final result was almost inevitable.

Nadal will be aiming to break the record for most Grand Slam singles titles at this month's Australian Open.

He is currently tied on 20 titles with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. But with Federer injured and Djokovic in doubt because of visa issues, Nadal has a chance to go one ahead of his great rivals.

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Nadal was playing his first tournament since August after injury and then contracting Covid.

He said while he was too sick 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.

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"Very happy to start the season with a title... and from where we are coming, it's very special," said Nadal. "Tonight I think I played my best match so far since I arrived here, without a doubt, against a very difficult player."

"If we put everything together and analyse all the things that I went through the last five months, including the COVID after Abu Dhabi, of course I am happy," he added.

"Of course there have been still doubts, but even more doubts during a lot of months, if I will be able to be back."

"Well, exactly where I would like to be is being 100% healthy... playing until the end of the season and without coming back after five, six months outside of the competition... I have a lot of things to keep improving... and I'm going to try hard."

- Reuters

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