FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Rafael Nadal says he’s a normal, guy, who does normal things.
“Nothing strange in my life,” Nadal said after he beat Ryan Harrison in the first round, 6-4 6-2 6-2. I practice. I practice physical performance, practice tennis. I go fishing. I play golf. I go party when I have the chance to go party. That’s all. Really normal guy, normal life.”
A normal guy, sure, but one who is making a big comeback this year at the US Open. After missing last year’s tournament, Nadal seems to be back on top of his game and ready to compete for the title against the usual suspects, Djokovic, Murray, and Federer.
And now, he looks like he’s playing great on the hard courts, going 15-0 this summer with wins in Cincinnati and Montreal.
“I played well. I just played well, I think,” he said. “I played a very good level. But I had success in the past when I was playing well, too, on hard. I played well better in Cincinnati and Montréal than what I played in the Olympics in 2008? I don’t think so. I don’t know. Or I played better than when I won here in 2010? I don’t know.
“To win two Masters 1000 in a row against the opponents I had a chance to beat, sure I was playing a very high level. But is very difficult to compare year by year. Happy the way I was playing. I don’t know if it was the best or not, but was very good because I was able to win.”
It’s not going to be easy, though. Nadal said the conditions today were difficult, which may hurt him if the weather will be iffy for the two weeks.
“Today the conditions out there were very difficult, in my opinion, because normally this very big court, the winds goes one side. Can be very strong. But today the wind moves a lot around, changing directions all the time. That makes the match very difficult.
“But for moments I think I played well with my forehand. I was able to go to the net a few times, even if I lost a few times when I go to the net, the point. That’s the right thing to do. Even if I lost a few ones at the beginning, I was able to keep doing and having success later.
“Yes, I didn’t have a lot of breakpoints against during the whole match. That’s always a positive thing. I think two in one game, 15‑40. For the rest of the match I was comfortable with myself.
“Then I played a little bit more behind the baseline than the previous tournaments. You need to keep adapting a little bit to the courts and to these balls that are different than the previous tournaments. The balls are a little bit slower.
“But for the rest of the thing, I played a very complete match. I’m happy with the way I am playing.”
He will be a force.