May 17, 2022 1:43 pm

Australian Open: Rafael Nadal won and spoke about the Djokovic case, the race with him and Roger Federer for Grand Slam titles and being “the best in history”

After deportation to Novak Djokovic, began the Australian Open, who wants to put tennis back as the central theme. For the Argentines, the opening day was black, with four goodbyes –mostly predictable– in four commitments: Federico Delbonis, Federico Coria, Facundo Bagnis Y Thomas Etcheverry they lasted one day in Melbourne.

From Delbonis, 42nd in the world and former Davis Cup champion, more could be expected, because he debuted against the 61st, the Spanish Peter Martinez, and fell by 7-6 (17-15), 3-6, 6-4 and 6-2. Coria, 64th, had it more difficult, against the French Gael Monfils (19th), who eliminated him with a 6-1, 6-1 and 6-3. The same thing happened with Bagnis, 71st, who got the Chilean Christian Garin, 18th; Rosario put up more of a fight than expected, but ended up defeated by 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-7 (4-7) and 6-3, in 4 hours and 39 minutes. Not to mention Etcheverry, 129th, who in his first participation in a Grand Slam event, coming from the classification, ended up presenting a battle to Pablo Carreno Busta, 21st; the Spanish triumphed by 6-1, 6-2 and 7-6 (7-2).

Federico Delbonis fell short of expectations by losing to Spaniard Pedro Martínez, who is 19 places below him in the ranking.Clive Brunskill – Getty Images AsiaPac

The figure of the inaugural Monday was Rafael Nadal, the top star of the championship even though the ranking today, which shows him 6th, does not make him the main favorite. The lefty is the sole former champion (2009) competitor and started with a victory at cruising speed: 6-1, 6-4 and 6-2 about the american Marcos Giron (66th). “I played well and the sensations are good. I have served well, the drive has worked. At times I have not played perfectly, but It is time to forgive when things are not going well. I come from many months without competing and an injury that has not allowed me to train well at all. I have played very little in the last two years. It’s a matter of find the trust, that I need to recover and that it is difficult to have without the competition”, the Spaniard analyzed. “I hope to play better the day after tomorrow, because the rival is going to demand it”, alluded to the winner of Yannick Hanfmann (126th, Germany) vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis (145th, Australia). Only later did he know that the adversary would be the first.

But it is still early for the game to displace the Djokovic case in Melbourne, who at least during the first round will fly over Melbourne Park. Nadal had already expressed himself on the matter, but he had to return to it in the press conference after his victory. “I’m pretty tired of that topic. When he won the first hearing, I said that justice had spoken. Yesterday the decision was different, and I’m not going to go against what justice says,” he said. “Everything that happened prior to the tournament was a big, unfortunate, sad distraction. It’s reality. It was a cluster of unfortunate circumstances by different parties”, he added, and the axis of the conversation ran. “Now Australia started in a positive way for me. It’s a shame that you can only play in the middle of the stadium [por el aforo restringido], but we are still in a difficult moment, accepting the limitations that we have to continue to comply with due to the pandemic,” he commented.

In sports, it is impossible to avoid the record that Djokovic seemed in a position to seize at this Australian Open and that is now left only to Nadal’s mercy: that of 21 Grand Slam crowns, which would take off its owner from the other and from Roger Federer. “I tell you one thing, with my hand on my heart: I understand this about the GOAT movie [sigla que en inglés significa “el más grande de la historia”], but I live my day to day, and my concerns are different from being the best in history, to breaking ties in the Grand Slams“, he claimed.

The phrase could sound like an attempt to take pressure off, but Nadal, always rational, gave a good foundation when he expanded. “We have met three players who have achieved special things in the history of our sport. If someone ends up winning more, then fantastic, but the three of us have exceeded any of our expectations from when we were young, and we have surpassed them with a great difference. I am happy, I do not live with the inner anguish or desperation of wanting to be the greatest. If it comes, it will come, and if not, then nothing. My future and my happiness will not depend on whether or not I win one more Grand Slam than Roger or Novak.. I will try to enjoy my career as much as possible”, stated Rafa, who took just the first of the seven steps required to lift the cup at the Rod Laver Stadium after two weeks.

After being eliminated by Monfils, Federico Coria referred to Djokovic in turn. In his case, from a special plane: the coronavirus attacked him at Andrea Collarini’s wedding party; the santafesino found out when he arrived in Australia and could not play the ATP Cup or play the tournament in Sydney, but trained with the Serbian before the Open, and finally Nole was expelled from Australia for not being vaccinated against the Covid-19.

“It’s hard. The buzzword is “exemption”; without that, he would not have come. Later, I don’t know if because of the polls or because the people were against it, maybe the government didn’t want him to be there. There were also the mistakes he had, of course. But everything became very political, very ugly”, Coria pointed out. “I am very new, but I was in meetings in which I saw Novak fight for the interests of the players. It is difficult for me to comment, but he is convinced of his position. His conviction is admirable.”, valued Guillermo’s younger brother. And he sat down without disdaining the other’s: “everyone should be free, but on the other hand I I got vaccinated twice and I support the idea of ​​getting vaccinated. It’s a difficult topic”.

For Etcheverry, Australia 2022 was the absolute first in a Grand Slam championship. The result looks much worse than the mood of the 22-year-old from La Plata. “I have a huge experiencebecause it was my first time here. I had only played one tournament on hard courts, and I still have a lot of shooting to do. But I am feeling more comfortable. Here one can train with players who are above one. So, the training is very good, and the facilities are incredible. It’s the best tournament I’ve ever played.” celebrated the Argentine.

The sensations of the end of his debut were much better than those of the beginning. “Carreño touched me. I knew it was going to be tough and in the first two sets it cost me a lot. When he became solid, it began to be difficult for me to continue in the game with the same concentration and the same intensity. But then I took more risks and took it to a tie break. I feel like it was a good experience,” Etcheverry said.

The other four albiceleste tennis players who entered the main draw of the Open will open their way this Australian Tuesday. The only one on Argentine Monday would be Diego Schwartzman (13th), who will face Serbian Filip Krajinovic (39th). The others will enter the court a good while later. In the third turn, Juan Manuel Cerundolo (81st) will meet the Czech Tomas Machac (130th), and in fourth, Sebastian Baez (95th) will face the Spanish Albert Ramos Viñolas (44th) and the classified Marco Trungelliti (198th) will run into the American Frances Tiafoe (37th).

About Schwartzman there was an amusing reference from Nick Kyrgios, the talented and wayward Australian who has no filters when expressing himself. “At this point in my career I’m not going to make 30-shot rallies against Diego Schwartzman”, commented Kyrgios when announcing that this season he will not star in contests on slow courts, those in which the Buenos Aires tennis player can hold very long points thanks to his recognized defense.

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