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January 19, 2022

Rafael Nadal

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

R. NADAL/Y. Hanfmann

6-2, 6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: (Off microphone.)

RAFAEL NADAL: Completely different opponents, no? I think today the challenge was higher in terms of the opponent. I think he played great tennis out there, playing very aggressive, big shots.

Yeah, no, it wasn't an easy game at all. First set was 6-2, but probably was the most difficult one in general terms.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Have you had to make any changes to the way you're playing in order to protect the foot? I think Darren Cahill said he didn't think you were sliding quite so much.

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, difficult to make changes especially at the beginning when you are coming back from a long-term injury, no?

Of course in my mind is to play a little bit more aggressive, but the main thing is stay healthy more than any other thing. Then if you stay healthy, you can practice the changes that you want to do, you can compete and put it in practice during the matches. If not, it's more difficult.

I mean, only five matches after such a long period of time, not enough in general terms to appreciate if I am able to change something or not.

If I'm able to play more matches in the next couple of months, I hope to be able to play better and better and to improve couple of things.

Q. After five matches, what are you most happy about and what do you feel there's room for improvement on?

RAFAEL NADAL: More happy about the victory, no? That allow me to keep going. In two days I going to have another chance against a very good opponent like Khachanov probably, if not Bonzi.

But that's the main thing, no? As I said, I said here before the tournament start, things not going to be perfect, but every day that I going to spend on court, the chances to play better are higher.

I think I am doing things well. Things that I can improve I have to improve. I want to keep going in the tournament. But winning today allow me to practice again tomorrow, to be ready for another match. After two matches is the moment to make a step forward. It not going to be impossible. I'm going to try.

I'm excited about it. I'm excited about the fact that I'm going to be playing in a third round for one more time here after all the things I am going through. I don't have big pressure on my shoulders, honestly. I don't feel it. The pressure is only to stay healthy and to enjoy the fact that I am competing again, then give my best as I did during all my tennis career. I don't expect that the things -- well, expect fight for make the things better and better every single day.

Q. Earlier today Victoria Azarenka spoke in support of a vaccine mandate across WTA tournaments. With your ATP players council hat on, is that something you would support for a uniform policy for vaccines for all ATP tournaments?

RAFAEL NADAL: What do you mean? That you need to be vaccinated to play in the ATP Tour?

Q. Yes.

RAFAEL NADAL: I am no one to say that. I talked enough about that. As I said, we went through bubbles for two years, very challenging conditions. If everybody's vaccinated, we are allowed to improve our life on the tour, and most important our life outside of the tour.

Of course, I will be always supporting the safer health measures that helps to save lives in this world more than any other thing.

Q. You were talking about getting better and better match by match. If you reach the quarters, could become a clash with Sascha Zverev. Are you thinking about how fit you might be for this match?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. I am in third round. I need to win very tough matches to be there. Is not in my mind now. I have enough work.

I don't like. I think playing against Khachanov now, probably Khachanov, going to be a big challenge. Always is a big challenge against Karen. In my situation today going to be even more.

I never think that far. You can imagine now less than ever, no? Just staying focused on my daily work, on what's coming, and that's it. One moment in time, that's it.

Q. You tend to joke a lot about your age. At 35 years old what do you have that you maybe didn't have 10 years ago? What are the positives of being your age in this sport?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, the positive thing is I achieved much more that I never dreamed. I was able to spend almost 20 fantastic years on the tour. The rest of the things nothing positive because arrives to the end. When you get older, the watch never stop, no (smiling)? That's the circus of life. You need to accept that. But it's all good with me with that.

In terms of tennis career, okay, you can say I'm more experienced. I don't get that positive point (smiling).

Q. Are you still worried about Peng Shuai's safety and whereabouts in China?

RAFAEL NADAL: I heard that she's okay when I am asking here on the tour. I heard that she's fine. That's the most important thing.

I just expect that she's healthy and she's free to be back on the tour and she's free to do whatever she wants to do. That's the only thing that I really hope. I wish her all the best.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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