Takeaways from Australian Open media day: Nadal says no plans to retire, more
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Rafael Nadal isn't planning to give up tennis anytime soon. Johanna Konta won't take too seriously her dominating win in the Sydney International last Friday.
And Sam Stosur, who has never done well at her home Grand Slam tournament, isn't getting too down on herself after her preparation—or lack of it—for Melbourne Park.
Following are some thoughts and impressions from players who spoke on Sunday, the day before the start of the Australian Open:
The takeaway: Rafa is not about to call it quits anytime soon.
Nadal, a 14-time major winner, is coming off two lengthy injury layoffs last year, including 2 ½ months off after pulling out of the French Open before the third round with left wrist injury and another rest at the end of the season.
Just don't ask him if he's ready to pull out a rod and reel, or a 9-iron.
"If I don't believe that I can be competitive, and when I mean competitive, is fighting for the things that I fought for during the last 10 years, I will be probably playing golf or fishing at home," Nadal said. "I am being honest ... I am here because I believe ... I can fight for the things that really motivate me."
Given his history with injuries, Nadal was asked if he was playing pain free.
"What do you mean 'pain-free'?" he said. "I am not injured, no. Pain-free is a long time ago."
The Sydney-born British player, a surprise semifinalist at Melbourne Park last year, won the Sydney International final against Agnieszka Radwanska last Friday, a victory so dominating that the Polish player, ranked third in the world, said: "I can't remember playing someone like this on that level, that consistent for the whole match. I couldn't really say that I did something wrong. She was just playing amazing tennis."
Konta said Sunday she's not reading too much into those plaudits.
"Obviously to have beaten a player like Aga, I'm definitely very pleased with the level I played," Konta said. "But we all know that it's not a given. It doesn't decide how you will do in the next event. I'm taking it as a positive from the week itself, but I'm looking to, again, work hard here and really try to do the best that I can here."
Competing in her 15th Australian Open, the highest-ranked Australian woman in the draw has never made it past the fourth round at Melbourne Park. Her preparation for her home major wasn't helped with first-round losses at Brisbane and Sydney
"I can't change it, it is what it is," Stosur said of her early exits. "I'm not going into my first round freaking out that I haven't had more than two matches. Like I said, I've done everything else that I can. Obviously it would have been really nice to have played more. But I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person in that situation from the first two weeks of the year."
The 18th-seeded Stosur has a tough first-round match against Heather Watson of Britain.
The fourth-seeded Halep lost in the first round last year at Melbourne Park. This year she'll have the distinction of opening play on the main Rod Laver Arena on Monday, against American Shelby Rogers.
"I hope is going to be better this year ... it's special to open the tournament on the biggest stadium. I'm not thinking very much at that thing. I just have to go there. I know the opponent pretty well."
Halep beat Rogers in straight sets in the third round at the 2015 U.S. Open in their only previous meeting.
The 38-year-old German veteran has said 2017 will be his last year on tour - he's taking over as tournament director at Indian Wells. Haas, who plays Benoit Paire of France in the first round, wants to go out with some dignity after a career of injuries.
He has been ranked as high as No. 2, won 15 ATP Tour titles, reached the semifinals of the Australian Open three times and Wimbledon once, and won a silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. His career has been stalled by injuries since he had shoulder surgery two years ago and right foot surgery in the middle of last year.
"I think it's important to find that right time, or that moment for you when you feel it's over and it's time to do something else," Haas said Sunday.
"For me it's very important just to be back on tour and back here at the Australian Open. It's been a while since I've played here and I'm excited to get the opportunity to go out on the court one more time and compete."
And to keep playing, hoping that his best is once again around the corner.
"When you are a dreamer, and a lot of us are, you obviously like to play at your best level again, maybe play against some of the top players somewhere on a big stage and play a great matches," Haas said. "Maybe get far in a tournament one more time."