Since last year, Rafael Nadal has set his sights on the second season of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL). In an interview, the Tennis superstar revealed how much he was looking forward to joining the event and experience the unique tennis match first-hand.
“I heard some wonderful things about the IPTL from the players last year. I was looking forward to playing last year too, but had to pull out because of my appendicitis injury. But I’m really excited to be playing here today,” Nadal said during a media press conference.
The IPTL is considered as a “glorified” exhibition game with a distinct team format in the world of tennis.
“It’s a great format, its superbly organised, all the players love, and it’s great for the sport of tennis to be able to go to new markets.”
For an IPTL first-timer, Nadal captured the Philippine audience and he himself was captivated by the reception towards him.
The Spanish Tennis star also conducted a tennis clinic for kids in Colegio San Agustin, Makati and he looks forward to come back to Manila and participate more in charity programs.
“It’s my first time here in Manila, and the crowd has been fantastic. I did a tennis clinic here yesterday with the kids, and it felt wonderful. I love being with children, to help them play better.”
With the IPTL, it gives Nadal the chance to reach his fans in different parts of the globe. He now looks forward in creating more camps for kids and continue the tradition every year.
“I am looking forward to playing in Delhi, my first time there. I’ve played a few times in Chennai. I also have a centre of my foundation in Anantapur, and I’m happy that some children from that centre will be able to come to the games in Delhi,” Nadal shared.
“I’m happy to support the children there, they get to learn English, Mathematics, Informatics; we’ve also built some tennis courts there, and it feels good to support the children.”
The former #1 player in the world had a sub-par year but he is already looking forward to the 2016 ATP season and coming back stronger.
“I had a good year, finished no. 5 in the world, which is not so bad. I’m training really hard to be able to play the best that I can, and I am looking forward to a strong year ahead.”
For Nadal’s teammates in the Indian Aces, having a player like him gives them that added boost to come in games with more confidence.
“It was great to have Nadal join the team today, he was just brilliant, and took to the format really well. He’s one of the best players in the world, and to have him join us makes us even stronger,” said Fabrice Santoro, who is the player-coach of the Indian Aces.
“We are really playing hard and want to win again, to be able to defend our title! It’s a good team combination that we have and we are looking forward to playing in India with Rafa,” Santoro added.
The Indian Aces are the defending champions and with Nadal on the team, the team is expected to go back-to-back.
Samantha Stosur, also an IPTL first-timer, admits that Nadal made adjusting to the new rule set look easy.
“Rafa was great with the team on the bench, and he really took to the format so easily,” said Stosur.
“It didn’t feel like it was his first day out there today. We are really enjoying the team competition, its quick and fast-paced, and that’s what’s so great about it.”