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Nadal Looking Forward To Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal leads the inaugural Rio Open.

Rafael Nadal is looking forward to competing at the inaugural Rio Open presented by Claro hdtv, an ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tennis tournament.

The World No. 1 told reporters on Friday, “I have good feelings about competing in Brazil. I have a great connection with the fans here. This country is very special and I hope to enjoy the experience."

Nadal first competed in South America as an 18 year old in 2005, picking up ATP World Tour titles at Costa do Sauipe (d. A. Martin) and Acapulco (d. Montanes). Last year, he returned following a seven-month lay-off due to a knee injury. After he had finished runner-up at Vina del Mar (l. to Zeballos), he lifted trophies at Sao Paulo (d. Nalbandian) and again at Acapulco (d. Ferrer). 

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“When I won the tournament [at Costa do Sauipe] in Brazil in 2005, that was the start of my success,” he said. “I was able to play one of the best seasons of my career, winning 11 titles.

“Last year was an important one, playing in Sao Paulo after coming back from an important injury and a long-time not playing on the tour. To win in Sao Paulo gave me confidence again to compete well.”

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There are five tournaments on the Latin American swing of the ATP World Tour in 2014. Nadal welcomes Rio de Janeiro’s addition to the professional tennis calendar.

“I think that tennis has to move to places where there is love and passion for the sport, so it is important to have tournaments in South America,” said Nadal. “Tennis is a global sport, so to have tournaments in new places is great for our sport. Cities and countries in Latin America have developed a lot over the years, so it is good to see tournaments are getting bigger and bigger in this part of the world.”

Nadal also expressed his desire to compete in Rio de Janeiro at the Olympic Games in 2016. 

“It is difficult to predict what will happen over the next two-and-a-half years, but I am motivated to arrive at the Olympic Games in 2016 and be competitive,” he said. 

“The fact that the Olympic Games will be on clay gives me a little bit of extra motivation. Representing my country at an Olympic Games, at Beijing 2008, was one of the greatest moments of my career.”

Nadal beat Fernando Gonzalez to win the 2008 Beijing Olympics singles gold medal.

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