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Rafael Nadal looks in top form leading into next week’s ATP Cup after he earned a strong win over Dominic Thiem on Friday at the A Day at the Drive exhibition in Adelaide.

Nadal overcame World No. 3 Thiem 7-5, 6-4 in one hour and 24 minutes during the night session. The Spaniard, who broke once in each set and finished the match with a volley winner, praised Australia for the nation’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been a very hard year for all the world in general,” said Nadal. “I think Australia is an amazing, positive example about how to control the pandemic and do things the right way. Many congratulations to the country… It’s an amazing pleasure to be in Adelaide for the first time.”

Earlier in the day, Novak Djokovic played only one set against Jannik Sinner after developing blisters on his right hand. Filip Krajinovic stepped in to win the first set 6-3 against Sinner, before Djokovic came onto court for the second set, which the World No. 1 won 6-3.

“The emotion was strong in me to come out on the court today, seeing almost full stands,” said Djokovic. “I just had to play. That’s it. I had to play.”

Nadal, Djokovic and Thiem are all preparing to compete at the 12-country ATP Cup, which begins on 2 February and features 12 of the Top 13 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Sinner will also play next week in the Great Ocean Road Open, an ATP 250 event, which is also being held in Melbourne.

A Day at the Drive, which is being held at Memorial Drive Tennis Centre in Adelaide, is supporting the Australian Tennis Foundation that aids South Australia’s most disadvantaged communities.


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