Nadal didn't breeze through his title at Qatar Exxonmobil Open. Quite the opposite. He had to fight hard and looked rather flat at times. Still he showed his Nadal grit and managed to ride out the bumps in his game and emerge with the trophy.
This should give him plenty of confidence for Australian Open and the question on most people's minds when Nadal steps onto a hard court – how are his knees? – seems to net the answer: fine.
This is how he described his victory in that typical matter-of-fact way of his:
“Every victory is important and the title today means a lot to me. It is the first time in my career that I am able to start the season with a victory. That's always important.”
For his opponent in the final, Gael Monfils, Doha was a huge step in the right direction and that direction is back into the top of the men's game. Monfils has struggled with lots of injuries and confidence so it's nice to see him back. Also, his game in Doha was much more aggressive than we've seen him play in a long time. He was standing closer to the baseline and hitting murderous forehands left, right and center. It was an impressive feat and if he keeps it up he can be a real threat to reach the semis (depending on the draw) in Melbourne.
So. The final. It ended 6-1 6-7 6-2 with Nadal's numbers first. Nadal looked to be in control the entire match and despite losing the second set – he seemed determine to take home his first Qatar title. Compared to the lacklustre Federer in the Brisbane final, it's evident that Nadal wants it more than his Swiss co-GOAT. And when Nadal wants it – he tends to get it.
Ps. Wavrinka won in Chennai and likes the courts in AO. He'll definitely be tough man to beat in the first slam of the year. Ds.