Returning to number one not a priority, says Nadal
BARCELONA, April 23 — Rafa Nadal has played down the significance of his victory over Novak Djokovic in Monte Carlo, saying winning tournaments was his priority rather than reclaiming the world number one spot.
The Spaniard broke a seven-match losing streak against Djokovic with 6-3 6-1 final victory yesterday and continues the claycourt season defending his Barcelona Open title this week.
“My challenge is to play well in Barcelona, not to be number one,” Nadal told a news conference today as he reminded people he was closer to world number three Roger Federer than to Djokovic in the ATP rankings.
“It was important to beat Novak, but if I am honest, it was more important to win in Monte Carlo. After my career all that will remain are the titles, the victories and not who I managed to win them against.
“My objective is to go day by day. I am starting a special tournament for me because I am playing at home and I hope to do well from the first day and to continue notching wins.”
When it was suggested that he had brought to an end Djokovic’s recent dominance of the sport, like Real Madrid had perhaps done with their 2-1 La Liga victory at Barcelona on Saturday, Nadal defended the Serbian.
“Djokovic hasn’t fallen in the first round, he lost in a final and he came to it after winning in Australia and Miami,” Nadal, a Real fan, said. “He is having a spectacular year.
“Barca have been the best team in the world for three years, there is no doubt about that and it will be very difficult for anyone to repeat what they have done.
“But Madrid have a great team, as they proved on Saturday, and if they go on to win the league and the Champions League it will be because they were better than Barca. Sport is normally fair like that.”
Six-time Barcelona Open champion Nadal is competing against other top 10 players Andy Murray, David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic for the Trofeo Conde de Godo.
World number seven Tomas Berdych has withdrawn with a shoulder injury. — Reuters