Rafael Nadal proposes an idea to improve the United Cup and hopes for a good Australian Open
SYDNEY – The United Cup, the tournament that revived mixed competitions in tennis, can be even better: at least that’s what Spaniard Rafael Nadal believes, who made a proposal to change the format after his second defeat in the event.
“I have a negative opinion about the format. The competition is great, the idea is great, but what is not great is that today we played for nothing. It’s the first year, so there is room for improvement and to make it more interesting for everybody,” said the Spaniard after falling in three sets to local Alex de Minaur (3-6, 6-1, 7-5).
In the Group D of the mixed tournament, Great Britain beat Australia on Thursday and Spain on Saturday. So the series between the Australians and the Spaniards is being played only for honor (and some ranking points): “It’s not good for the competition that Spain and Australia are playing for nothing. The idea is that all the matches make sense”.
The world number two provided the solution: “In a group of three, the loser of the first set has to play against the team that hasn’t played yet. For example, yesterday (Monday, against Great Britain), even losing 3-1 in the singles, I would have played the mixed doubles, because maybe that match would have made the difference later (in case of an eventual triple tie).”
Fans at the Ken Rosewall Arena were the most disappointed when they saw David Vega and Nuria Parrizas take the court, instead of the “Dream Team” of Nadal and Paula Badosa.
“At the same time, it’s not fair to the rest. For example, yesterday we didn’t field our best players, and that can hurt other countries that depend on that match to advance,” Nadal explained.
The reigning Australian Open champion will travel to Melbourne on Wednesday to prepare for the defense of his title. He will arrive at the first Grand Slam of the year with the two defeats in the competition by nations, and with only one victory in his last seven official matches. But the statistic doesn’t worry him too much: “I will work hard these two weeks to be physically better and more consistent. I’m not alarmed by what happened here in Sydney. I had my chances and I just didn’t take them. I have room to improve.”
“If the number one is not able to give the point you need, especially on the first day, then your chances are reduced. It was a good experience to share with the girls this week. Too bad we were not able to advance, but I take it as a good experience, it was fun. You learn from every experience. It was intense and sad at the same time, we had a very difficult group. We gave everything, in every match we won at least one set. We have to accept it,” he said at the press conference.
The champion of 22 Grand Slams left a phrase to avoid being underestimated in the run-up to the first major tournament of the season: “A year ago, it was impossible to imagine what would happen next”.
Twelve months ago, he returned to the courts after undergoing treatment on his left foot in 2021. In September of that year he was on crutches, and five months later he was chewing the ear of the trophy at the Australian Open.
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