MADRID - Spanish number one tennis player Rafael Nadal this Sunday highlighted the importance to him of the Mutua Madrid Open which is being played in Madrid this week.
As well as being the favorite of the home fans, Nadal stressed the importance of the event as part of his preparation for the French Open at Roland Garros.
"These tournaments have always been really important in my career. They are the first ones played on clay every year and, like I say, it's a really important moment for me because I know it's where I'm most likely to play well," he said in an interview with the tournament website.
Nadal goes into the competition feeling confident after beating his main rival, the number one seed, Novak Djokovic in Monte Carlo recently.
"I always say, you just have to keep going, keep training and keep getting better. I think in Monte Carlo I played at a really high level against him and I was finally able to break the losing streak and take the title," commented Nadal, who travels to Madrid after winning in Barcelona last week.
"Playing in Spain, at home, is always special. I've always said that playing here is like no other place in the world. The crowd here in Madrid has always been incredible. Some of my achievements would have been impossible without their support," he continued.
Nadal has won the tournament twice in the past and believes that the support he receives in Madrid is a huge help to his ambitions.
"First of all I want to thank everyone who comes to give us their support. These are tough times and we all have to stick together and work hard. So for people to make the effort to come and watch us play tennis, I can't help but be grateful," he commented.
The only thing Nadal doesn't like about this year's tournament is the fact that the beaten clay surface is colored blue. He has complained that it hinders visibility and that the playing surface can be slippery.
"I have already spoken in detail about my thoughts on this matter and of the discontent the majority of the players feel towards the ATP's decision. Without a doubt this tournament is one of the best in the world and there's nothing more to say. It is what it is and now all I can do is train hard and do my best," he concluded.