Rafael Nadal delighted with ‘special’ title win on return from injury

The 35-year-old claimed his 89th career title after defeating American seed Maxime Creasy 7-6 (6) 6-3 in the ATP 250 final before the Australian Open, which begins on January 17.

Nadal saved a set point in the first set tiebreak and fought from collapse in the second, before finishing the match in one hour and 44 minutes.

“I’m very happy to start the season with a title… where we came from… it’s something very special,” Nadal said. “Tonight I think I played my best match so far since arriving here, no doubt, against a very difficult player.”

Nadal competed in an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi last month, but tested positive for Covid-19 upon his return, further affecting his preparation for the Australian Open as he seeks his second title – and his first since 2009.

“If we get everything together and analyze all the things I’ve been through over the past five months, including Covid after Abu Dhabi, then of course I’m happy,” he added.

“Of course there are still doubts, but even more doubts in so many months, if I will be able to come back.”

But Nadal insisted there was still a lot to do as he looked to reclaim matches and add to his tally of 20 majors, a record he currently shares with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

“Well, exactly where I would like to be is to be 100 per cent healthy… I play until the end of the season and without coming back after five or six months out of competition… I have a lot of things to keep improving… and I will try diligently.”

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