Nadal Seeks First Miami Title

Tennis Updates:

During his historic career, Rafael Nadal has tracked down 67 tour-level singles titles in 25 different cities. The Spaniard has won titles all over the globe – as far east as Beijing and as far west as Indian Wells, California.

But Nadal has never won a title in Miami, the home of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, all 12 years he’s been on tour. On Saturday, the 29 year old is scheduled to make his 12th appearance at the tournament when he plays Bosnian Damir Dzumhur in the second round. Nadal hopes this year’s Miami Open presented by Itau has a new ending.

“I think I played well in my career here, no? Four finals. Another semi-final. Some more quarter-finals… So was a positive tournament for me,” he said. “Only negative thing is I never win it.”

Nadal has come close. In 2011 and 2014, he reached the finals but lost to Novak Djokovic. In 2008, Nadal lost to then World No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko in the final in straight sets. There also was Nadal’s memorable 2005 Miami final against Roger Federer. Nadal, then 18, was up two sets to zero but lost 6-2, 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 3-6, 1-6 to the then World No. 1.

After slipping in 2015, Nadal, No. 5 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, has shown signs that he’s returning to earlier levels. Last week at the BNP Paribas Open, Nadal forced World No. 1 Novak Djokovic into a first-set tie-break before falling in two sets during their semi-final match. It was the first time Nadal had reached the Indian Wells semi-finals since 2013.

“The difference is I’m enjoying [myself] on court. I’m not feeling the nerves on court. I’m not feeling that strange feeling that I never felt,” Nadal said. “I can lose, I can win, but I am happy on court. That’s the most important thing. That’s the big difference from what happened last year.”

Despite the lack of a title in Miami, the Spaniard has always enjoyed the tournament. He and the other Spanish players feel especially welcome in South Florida, Nadal said.

“The atmosphere here is great. I enjoy being here. The fans here are amazing with me,” he said.

“Miami is an amazing city and is unbelievable for us to be here in Miami, to play here in Miami… for the Latin people, Spanish people, we feel close because of the very big community of Latinos here.”

He’d likely enjoy it even more with his first Miami title and his 28th Masters 1000 title.



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