(March 21, 2014) No. 1 Rafael Nadal opens up his campaign to try and win his first Sony Open on Saturday when he meets 33-year-old veteran and former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt on Saturday day night in Key Biscayne.
“I think he’s a great inspiration for a lot of players after winning a lot of things as he did, and having a lot of physical problems he’s able to keep competing with unbelievable spirit, great motivation” Nadal said of Hewitt. “He’s able to come back after important injuries.
“So that’s a great example for the rest of the players. I am happy to see him playing well again. Hopefully not tomorrow,” Nadal said with a smile.
“But, yeah, he already won a tournament this year, so it will be a tough match for me. I need to play well. I’m going to try.”
The Sony Open is one of very few events the Spaniard has never won.
“I would love to win here any year,” Nadal said.
“When I am playing a tournament, I always try my best in every one.
So when I go on court, I try my best in every tournament, in every match. I gonna do it the same here, no?
“Hopefully I will have a good few days. I hope to be competitive tomorrow. Never is easy the first round, especially when you play an opponent like Lleyton, and especially when he already played a match, so it will be tough battle.
“I need to be very competitive. I need to be ready. I hope I will be.”
“I prefer an easier opponent,” said a smiling Nadal. “But that’s what there is. I cannot choose the draw.
“Gonna be tough one. But at the same time, he’s a player that you can play ‑‑ we are gonna play rallies from the baseline. Gonna be a hard one.
But the good thing of playing these kind of matches is that if you are able to win, you will be in rhythm for the tournament.
“Against the players that I played last week, (Radek) Stepanek or (Alexamdr) Dolgopolov, even if you win, you feel that you are not playing the point the way you want to play.
“So different history. The good thing is if I am able to play a good match tomorrow and win, probably I will be confident and on rhythm.
If I lose, I gonna be on rhythm flying home.”
Nadal holds a 6-4 head-to-head record against Hewitt.