Nadal aims for Wimbledon, Davis Cup and Beijing 2008
Rafael Nadal's priorities for 2008 are very clear: he dreams of the title at Wimbledon, he wants to win the Davis Cup and he is preparing with particular interest FOR the Beijing Olympics, in which he is also planning to play doubles.
The world No.2 analysed the season during an interview in his native town, Manacor.
The cold and the rain make Nadal's refuge in the Balearic islands look more like a German city than like the warm Mallorca.
However, the Spanish player does not mind it, even though the island lacks a roofed tennis court for its most famous sportsman to train in and rain means setting aside his racquet.
As he prepared a four-tournament tour set to start in Rotterdam next week, Nadal said he is not surprised at the beginning of the season.
"It was obvious that (Novak) Djokovic was going to win something. I did not know if it would be Australia, just that he would win something. I got to the semi-finals, my best season start ever," the Spaniard evaluated the Australian Open.
"(Andy) Murray started out well in Doha, although he then slipped in Australia. But I think he is going to be at the top, for sure. (Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga is a little bit of a surprise, but he has the figures to be at the top," Nadal continued.
And he got to the best man in the sport, the Swiss Roger Federer, who lost a semi-final at the Australian Open to Djokovic.
"Federer lost in the semi-finals, yes, but he did not lose in the first round. He played a reasonable tournament, and when you are competing at the highest level and playing against the best...Perhaps he did not have his best day, as happened to me. And he lost," Nadal interpreted.
In early 2008, many expected Federer to attempt to win the Grand Slam and the Golden Slam. However, that is no longer possible after Djokovic won the Australian Open.
"People in general do not realise just how difficult tennis is. What Federer has achieved so far is incredible, it is really impressive. People have to know that he is going to lose something some day. And he lost in Australia," Nadal said sympathetically.
If given the choice of which tournament to win this year, between Wimbledon (where he has lost the last two finals to Federer) and Roland Garros (where he has won the last three editions), Nadal has few doubts.
"I would choose Wimbledon, although I would sign the guarantee to win either of the two straight away. But winning Wimbledon would be incredible for me," he said.
Over the next few weeks, Nadal is set to play indoors in Rotterdam and then outdoors in Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami, and he has clear objectives for this tour.
"I now have gathered 570 points in the 2008 ranking. My objective is to leave Miami with 1,000 points, more or less. I want to gather 420 among those four tournaments," the player said.
Last year, after playing in Miami, Nadal was on 700 points.
The Spaniard once asked Federer if the two could play doubles together and the Swiss declined. Nadal has not asked again.
"This is an Olympic year, and I will do what I can to play doubles with Spaniards. In Rotterdam I will play with (Tommy) Robredo, and at Indian Wells I will play with (David) Ferrer. (Spain) is allowed to field two doubles teams (at the Olympics), but we do not have doubles specialists. Who is going to play? We have no ranking in doubles," he explained.
"We are looking into it with the Davis Cup captain, because it is him who has to decide too," Nadal noted.
With reference to the Davis Cup, Nadal is looking forward to returning to the team, as Germany prepares to host Spain in April, indoors, on a fast surface and with 10,000 spectators in Bremen.
"I want to play the Davis Cup again, and to feel it, because I have not played the Davis Cup 100 percent for a year-and-a-half now. I want to feel that I am defending my country again," said the world No.2.
Nadal missed last week's tie against Peru in Lima, following his coach's advice. Spain - the winner of two editions of the tournament - beat the hosts 5-0 despite not fielding Nadal, Ferrer and other top players.
For the tie in Germany, the world No.2 appears hardly overconfident.
"The host always has a great advantage. They have the spectators behind them, they choose the surface, they choose the balls, everything to suit them better. And if they make us play indoors, on carpet or on that plastic that they could make us play on... For us it is all an unknown," Nadal warned.
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