Success brings confidence, not pressure, says Nadal
Melbourne: Novak Djokovic comes into the Australian Open final shouldering the expectations of defending champion and with a huge target on his back after winning back-to-back grand slam titles.
But Rafa Nadal would swap places with him in a heartbeat.
The Spaniard, who will face Djokovic in Sunday`s Melbourne final, believes the world number one`s stellar run in 2011 would bring him confidence, not added pressure.
"It`s a fantastic situation to be in," Nadal told reporters Saturday. "It`s really not a tough one.
"When you are coming with that confidence everything is a little bit easier."
Djokovic kicked off a career-defining year by winning the Australian Open and went on to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open while compiling a remarkable 70-6 record over the season.
Nadal knows perhaps better than anyone what kind of impact such a streak of success can have on a player`s psyche.
The Spaniard came into last year`s Melbourne Park tournament seeking the "Rafa Slam" after winning the final three majors of 2010.
While he went out in the quarter-finals to David Ferrer, pressure had nothing to do with it, he says.
"I was a little bit unlucky here last year when I played for the grand slam," he added. "I didn`t feel extra pressure. That`s true. I had an injury in the quarter-finals so I was out.
"I think for (Djokovic) it`s an advantage, not a pressure, to be in that situation."
`BIG, BIG TEST`
Nadal, who arrived at his news conference an hour late after getting the time wrong, came into the year`s first grand slam under an injury cloud with shoulder and knee problems but has looked stronger as the tournament has gone on.
Djokovic, meanwhile, has companied of allergy issues and his breathing looked laboured in recent games, particularly in the early stages of his five-set semi-final win over Britain`s Andy Murray Friday.
Nadal was sceptical there was anything wrong with the Serb.
"It`s funny, I saw the match yesterday on TV ... and they show images from two hours, 50 (minutes) before and it seems like he was destroyed," he said.
"Two hours, 50 later he was in perfect condition. So it`s difficult to imagine he has these problems."
Nadal holds the upper hand against Djokovic at 16 wins to the Serb`s 13, but recent finals have gone the way of the world number one.
The Mallorcan acknowledged there would be no quarter asked or given Sunday.
"He is the favourite after being number one in the world and after playing fantastic and beating me the last six times," added Nadal, who beat Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych in the previous two rounds.
"Now it`s another big, big test. I don`t know if I am ready enough to win the match tomorrow but I believe that I can do it and I am going to fight for it."