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Wary of new players, Nadal seeks to continue winning ways in 2007 in India

Wary of new players, Nadal seeks to continue winning ways in 2007 in India

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal of Spain is hoping to launch the new year with a title-winning performance at the ATP Tour's Chennai Open as he strives to carry his impressive form into 2007.
The Chennai Open is a US$416,000 (euro315,000) hard-court tournament that will also feature World No. 8 David Nalbandian of Argentina and former tournament winners Carlos Moya of Spain and Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand.
"I'm hoping to carry my form into the new year, but one's never sure how things will turn out as there are so many good youngsters on the circuit," said Nadal, 20, whose five title victories in 2006 boosted his career tally to 17.
"It'll be nice to retain the No. 2 position, although looking at the new year, my first aim is to stay among the top eight and feature in the Masters Cup," Nadal said Sunday in this southern Indian city.
Winner of the Chennai Open in 2004 and 2005, Moya is ranked 43rd on the ATP roster, while four-time finalist Paradorn is No. 53.
Missing from the lineup is Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic, who defeated Moya in the final last time to dash the Spaniard's hopes of winning the title three years in a row.
Nadal begins with a first-round contest against Germany's Rainer Schuettler, against whom he has a 2-1 record after losing the first encounter in 2004.
Schuettler is currently ranked 97th.
"I've got a difficult start, drawn in the first round against Schuettler ... I'm seeking to strike my best form," said Nadal.
Nadal said he was hoping to continue his sterling show of 2006, when he even enjoyed a 4-2 edge in six matches against world No. 1 Roger Federer of Switzerland.
Winner of two successive French Open titles, Nadal said Federer remained the player to beat after finishing 2006 as No. 1 for the third consecutive year.
"Federer's difficult to beat, but it's not impossible. Even though I'm trying to improve my game, playing like him is very tough," said Nadal.
"I've had no holidays and have been working very hard," he said. "I defeated Federer four times in 2006 and lost just twice."
Having missed six weeks of competitive tennis in 2006 from injury, Nadal said players these days lived under the threat of getting hurt.
"Out there you're trying to produce your best, playing 100 per cent every day ... and playing 100 per cent is always dangerous when it comes to injuries," said Nadal.
Federer is not featuring in any of the year-launching tournaments starting Monday, but was still the topic of conversation as Nadal got a feel of the courts in Madras.
"Roger and Pete Sampras have been two perfect players," said Nalbandian.
"Pete was excellent, but what Roger is doing now is tougher," Nalbandian said.
"Tennis is so very tough these days, and yet Roger just lost 4-5 matches in 2006. That makes one feel as if he just can't fail."


Updated : 2021-08-04 12:12 GMT+08:00