Nadal ‘in control’ with his forehands
‘That’s the way I want to play’
ABU DHABI // Opponents beware.
Rafael Nadal has rediscovered his mojo, with those majestic forehands being put to telling use against Tomas Berdych last night, dismissing the world No 10 in straight sets 6-0, 6-4 to book his place in the semi-finals.
Playing his first match in more than two months, Nadala showed little rust as he romped through the opening set in 26 minutes.
He then broke Berdych in the ninth game of the second set for a 5-4 lead and closed out the match with a blistering ace down the middle.
“I created a lot of damage with my forehands,” Nadal said. The defending MWTC champion will meet Milos Raonic in tonight’s second semis, which will be a rematch of last year’s final. “That has been one of my main goals in these past couple of seasons – to rediscover my forehand. When I am hitting my forehands, I feel in control of the points.”
The forehands simply flowed from Nadal’s racket last night, the Spaniard hitting deeper than he has over the past two seasons even though this was his first match since his first round exit from the Shanghai Masters in the second week of October. The Spaniard had brought his season to early end to help recuperate from a recurring left wrist injury.
“I think in the first set, it was fantastic,” said the world No 9. “Every shot with my forehand, I created something.
“I was able to open the court, then change to the forehand down the line. That’s the way I need to play if I want to have success.
“I think it was a great match overall. I went to the net a few times and I didn’t miss much with my backhand. It’s great news because when I am losing my serve a lot of times, I come to press conferences and you guys ask me about the serve not working.
“Most times, it is not the serve. It’s the game from the baseline when I am losing a lot of my serves. It’s about the shots from the baseline.”
Nadal is really positive about the new season. “I think I played a fantastic first set,” he said. “Difficult to imagine playing a first set like this after a long time out without competing. It happened and I enjoyed a lot, and I think I played a very good second set too.
“When you have not competed for a while and come back, you don’t expect to play at that very, very high level in your first match.
“But I practised so good in Mallorca for one month and a half. I don’t have any expectations. I just want to enjoy. For me, there is no pressure now.
“I am starting from zero. That’s my mentality and I am trying to focus on things that will help me to win,” he said.