Nadal taking a cautious approach to his 2011 campaign

Updated: 2011-02-11 07:48

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)

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Claiming three Grand Slam titles in a calendar year and the prestigious Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award should be an unforgettable achievement.

However, Rafael Nadal has already left all those fond memories behind and is focusing "day by day" on his 2011 campaign.

"My goal for 2011 is not to win another three Grand Slam tournaments but to give my best every day. Only like this can you make it to the peak. It's a mistake to go tournament by tournament, you have to go match by match," Nadal told China Daily after being named the 2010 Sportsman of the Year.

The world No 1 was near unstoppable last year, routing everyone out en route to sweeping three Grand Slam titles - the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.

However, injury derailed his chance to win four Slams in a row when he crashed out of the Australian Open at the quarterfinal stage last month after suffering a thigh muscle tear against compatriot David Ferrer.

Nadal's loss to Ferrer deprived him of the 'Rafa Slam' and showed injury is a hard opponent to defeat.

"Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Ferrer? My biggest rival is my day-by-day workload and injury," said 24-year-old, whose journey at the Melbourne Park last year was halted by a sprained ankle.

"The only way to finish the year (2011) where I want to be - and that is at the London Masters - is going day by day, step by step, tournament by tournament and hope not to get injured," Nadal said.

After appearing at Abu Dhabi to accept the prestigious Laureus honor on Monday, Nadal returned home to resume training "very slowly to prevent setbacks".

Although doctors have cleared him to play competitive matches, Nadal said his schedule only stretches as far as the French Open in May, with the Davis Cup first round, from March 3-6, as a tune-up.

"I only think as far as that. I want to get safely to Roland Garros and also play Davis Cup for Spain. I like the Davis Cup because you represent your country and because of the team spirit, " said Nadal, who led Spain to the title in 2008 and 2009.

"I don't want to look too far ahead right now, because I don't want to have another big injury."

(China Daily 02/11/2011 page23)


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