After a relaxing two weeks at home, spending time with friends and on the golf course, the Spaniard is excited to be back in action at the Palais Omnisports for the first time since 2009, and looking for it to lead to a first-time success at the season finale.
“The last tournament of the year is important,” said Nadal, who was runner-up at the Final Showdown in 2010 (l. to Federer). “I have never had the chance to play very well in London. In 2010 I played well; the rest I played really bad. I want to try to change that.
“I was always motivated for this last part of the season, but I was not able to apply it well. I hope this year I can change that situation. I hope to play well here and then we'll see.”
After a successful Asian swing, which saw him return to the summit of the Emirates ATP Rankings with a runner-up showing in Beijing and a semi-final in Shanghai, Nadal is back this week bidding to win an unprecedented sixth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown in 2013. A good performance in Paris-Bercy, where he reached the final in 2007 (l. to Nalbandian), would also help him secure the year-end World No. 1 spot.
Come what may in the final two weeks, though, Nadal will look back on 2013 as one of the greatest seasons of his career, having returned from a seven-month injury lay-off to win 10 tour-level titles, including victory at Roland Garros (d. Ferrer) and the US Open (d. Djokovic).
“What makes me happy is going on court ever day with a feeling that I am healthy, with the feeling that I am playing well, and the feeling that I can lose and I can win against everybody,” said Nadal.
“That happened for most of the tournaments this year. I did much more than what I thought. I am going to try to finish well here and in London. If I am able to play well and I finish No. 1, great. If not, it doesn't change the season as being one of the best of my career without any doubt.
“I enjoyed probably more than ever [being able to] play tennis the whole year. [They have been] very emotional matches this year [because of] the situation that I had last year. All the things that happened to me are more than what I ever dreamed eight months ago, so that makes me play very relaxed with less pressure.”
The 27-year-old Nadal will make his fourth appearance in Paris and opens his campaign against Dmitry Tursunov or Marcel Granollers. He has already triumphed at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells, Madrid, Rome, Montreal and Cincinnati this year.
“I'm excited to be back in Paris,” said the eight-time Roland Garros champion. “Paris is a very special city for me. Probably the most special city in the world. It's a great tournament. I haven’t had the chance to be here for different [reasons] for the past four years, so I am very happy and excited to be back.”