Olympics: Rafael Nadal surprised at Brazil hardcourt choice for 2016

Multiple grand slam champion and 2008 Olympic gold medallist Rafael Nadal expressed surprise Friday that the Rio Olympics tournament will be played on hardcourt and not clay.

AFP| Last Updated: Feb 14, 2015, 15:55 PM IST
Olympics: Rafael Nadal surprised at Brazil hardcourt choice for 2016

Rio de Janeiro: Multiple grand slam champion and 2008 Olympic gold medallist Rafael Nadal expressed surprise Friday that the Rio Olympics tournament will be played on hardcourt and not clay.

"I am surprised that in a country which has clay specialists the Olympics are going to be on hardcourt," Nadal told a press conference on Rio, where from Tuesday he will look to defend the ATP 500 event he won last year.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has explained the choice is based on the August 6 to 15 tournament coming just two weeks before the US Open, which is likewise played on hardcourt.

Rio authorities have been racing to ensure the Games` infrastructure is ready on time as the extravaganza comes to South America for the first time, but Nadal said he was sure all would go smoothly.

"Brazil was able to pull off successfully something as complicated as a World Cup and I am sure the Olympics are going to be a success," said Nadal, 14 times a Grand Slam champion and who also triumphed at the Beijing Games.

Andy Murray succeeded the 28-year-old Mallorcan as gold medallist at the London Games in 2012, landing the crown at Wimbledon by beating Roger Federer.

Looking to his own current form going into Rio, Nadal is out to break his title duck for the year to date as he cranks up clay preparations ahead of an assault on a tenth French Open title.

Noting the hot weather in Rio, the Spaniard said: "This heat would affect anyone, these conditions are complicated and the conditions extreme, including the humidity.

"If the temperature doesn`t drop by Tuesday I`ll have to fight to stay alive," the world number three said.

On his chances he said: "I don`t know if I am ready to win it. I`m working hard to get back to the level I was at before I got injured," he told reporters, with early season form having brought an early exit in Qatar and a quarter-final departure at the Australian Open after he returned from assorted fitness ailments last year.

Before picking up his racket next week, Nadal has the chance to join the carnival festivities in the "Marvelous City" which officially kicked off Friday and also visit the Maracana stadium.

Sunday will see him parade with compatriot David Ferrer and former Brazilian world number one Gustavo Kuerten at the sambadrome with the Viradouro samba school. 

For Nadal, the carnival "is something unique and very special -- from the outside you look on it as one of the most special events in the world. It`s a real pleasure to be here".