Mason, OH -- Fresh off a gold medal winning performance at the Rio Olympics, Rafael Nadal arrived in Cincinnati a bit fatigued, but ready to give his best effort.
"Even if I am not arriving here with the best possibilities because I played 23 hours in seven days . . . I am here to try my best and I am here to play at the highest level that I could," said Nadal.
After not playing any tennis for almost six weeks with an immobilized wrist, Nadal's participation at the Olympics was in doubt up to the last minute. But, Nadal is confident that his wrist has withstood the pressure of the Olympic grind.
"Looks like after a marathon for me in Olympics that the wrist resisted, so that's a great news for me."
Having just returned from serious injury and then playing so many hours on court in Rio, Nadal's decision to play in Cincinnati came as a surprise. But, according to the Spaniard, playing Cincinnati was always part of his schedule, the health of his wrist permitting. Still, Nadal acknowledges that his task in Cincinnati will be a difficult one.
"Cincinnati is Masters 1000. It's a big event . . . I am not arriving here with the best possibilities because I played 23 hours in seven days and my body is a little bit tired, it's obvious that's going to be tough."
The world #5 begins his quest for a second Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati (2013) in good spirits, still thrilled about the Olympic gold medal he won alongside Marc Lopez in doubles last week.
"The gold in doubles was amazing. Win a medal is always very, very special, but especially doing with one of my best friends is even more special, no?"
When asked if there was any advice he would give his younger self to prepare for the career he would go on to have, Nadal offered "you need to accept that if you are not lucky you're going to have injuries, and you need to be prepared for that."
Nadal is not looking for a strong result in Cincinnati to build confidence; he is happy with the current state of his game.
"I know I was ready this year to have a strong results in Grand Slams. I get injury. I was unlucky," he said. "But I feel competitive again. I feel with the right motivation. I don't have anymore the feelings I had last year. It's something that don't worries me much, no?"
The 14-time Grand Slam champion has reached a point in his career where results don't matter as much as the journey. For Nadal, the most important thing for him in tennis right now is to "enjoy" and be happy with what he's doing. But, Nadal is not resigned to a tennis life without winning Grand Slams.
"I believe that I going to keep having chances to win Grand Slams in the future if I am healthy. I have the right confidence that that can happen."
Rafael Nadal begins his Cincinnati campaign Wednesday evening against Pablo Cuevas in the second round, with Nick Kyrgios his potential opponent in the third round.