Spain’s Nadal Returns to World No. 1 in Men’s Tennis Rankings
Justin Bergman, The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, October 8, 2013 7:08AM EDT
SHANGHAI, China — Rafael Nadal says his belief that too many tournaments are played on hard courts hasn’t changed with his success on the surface this year — he’s simply given up trying to change the system.
The Spaniard, who retook the No. 1 ranking from Novak Djokovic this week, has compiled a 27-1 record on hard courts this year, including capturing his second U.S. Open crown and three Masters titles.
His dominance on the surface has been the most surprising part of his comeback from a seven-month layoff due to a left knee injury, which many believed would limit his action on hard courts.
Nadal said Tuesday before the Shanghai Masters tournament he still believes too many tournaments are played on the surface, but he’s done trying to influence ATP policymakers.
“I am really out of politics, and I don’t want to be involved in politics of the tennis anymore. I know even if you have strong ideas and even if you believe the changes are possible, I know there is always a wall there that is impossible to go over,” he said.
The 13-time Grand Slam winner has long advocated a shorter tournament schedule and more tournaments on clay courts to lessen the wear on players’ bodies and prevent career-threatening injuries like the kind with his knees he’s struggled with in recent years.
“I say because it’s something that I think is going to be fair for the next generations if they are able to play (on) an easier surface for the body, to try to have a longer career, to try to be more healthy when they finish (their) careers,” he said. “Something that probably I will not (be lucky enough to have),”
Nadal said that despite his remarkable comeback this year, which included winning a record eighth French Open title, he’s still dealing with pain in his left knee on a regular basis.
“Since I came back, the feeling on the knee is not 100 per cent perfect. But the feeling on the knee is very good for me because even if I have pain a lot of days, the pain is not limiting my movements,” he said.
“I am playing with no limitations. I am free when I am playing.”
Nadal is now determined to keep up his momentum through the end of the season and the ATP World Tour Finals in London — a time of year the Spaniard has traditionally struggled with fatigue and injuries.
After receiving a first-round bye, Nadal plays his opening match at the Shanghai Masters against either Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine or American qualifier Michael Russell.
He’s never won the Shanghai Masters. In fact in the last seven years, Nadal has only won one tournament following the U.S. Open — in Tokyo in 2010.
“I know in the past this part of the season was hard for me, but I am confident that I can keep playing well. I am doing the right things to be ready.”