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Rediff.com  » Sports » After ' Sweet' success Rafa plans a fishy experience

After ' Sweet' success Rafa plans a fishy experience

January 20, 2011 15:28 IST

A nostalgic Rafa Nadal reminisced about his freewheeling teenage days after charging into the Australian Open third round on Thursday and forecast a visit to a local aquarium ahead of the next battle in his bid for a fourth consecutive Grand Slam title.

Nadal will play 18-year-old local hope Bernard Tomic and local reporters were keen to get an insight into how the Spaniard would prepare for his first meeting with the hard-hitting youngster.

"What can I say different? What can I do different?" shrugged Nadal after blasting out American qualifier Ryan Sweeting 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 in a 102-minute romp.

"Practice a little bit tomorrow, rest in the hotel, maybe go to the aquarium. I didn't go this year. I go every year. So that's all."

Darting around a sun-drenched Rod Laver Arena in a salmon-coloured shirt, the nine-times Grand Slam champion at times resembled the more predatory fish at the Melbourne Aquarium, as he gutted 116th-ranked Sweeting in their first meeting.

Nadal had been denied a full first-round workout when his Brazilian opponent Marcos Daniel retired hurt and was not forced to work that much harder against the rangy American, who was left flat-footed on the baseline as missiles flew into the corners.

Rafa NadalSpaniard Nadal came to Melbourne Park still struggling to shake off a flu from the Qatar Open, but was a picture of health as he charged from corner to corner belting 36 winners from improbable angles.

LESS PRESSURE

"I think I played a solid match. A few mistakes with the backhand, that's all. My serve improved a lot since the first day," said Nadal.

"In general, I think my serve worked really well, so happy for that. Movement good, backhand good. Having a few more mistakes than usual.

"I have to play longer with the backhand. Maybe have to play a little bit more aggressive, more inside the court," he added.

All the world has been focusing on whether 2009 champion Nadal can add the Melbourne Park crown to his French Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles.

But Nadal said he had already achieved more than he had ever dreamt and felt less pressure than the days of 2006 and 2007 when he was thrust into the limelight after breaking through for his first Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros.

"I think I am in a different moment of my career," he said.

"Today, I am lucky. I have 24 and a half (years) ... I am very happy about what I did. That gives me a lot of calm.

"I have probably less pressure right now, (after) last year's season, winning a lot," he added.

Nadal's next opponent Tomic, at 16, became the youngest player to win a match at the Australian Open during his 2009 debut and has been rated a potential heir apparent to ageing twice-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt by local media.

Nadal spoke wistfully of the pressure-free days of his teenage years, when he used to go out all guns blazing against the world's top players, without even thinking about the result.

"When you are 17 or 18, everything is easier. You play with no pressure. You can win, you can lose, everything is fine.

"When you are coming up, (if) you play quarter-finals --perfect. You play semi-finals, fantastic. You play the final, very good. And if you win, it's unbelievable.

"So the pressure is higher when you are at the top," he added.

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