World number five Rafael Nadal is refusing to dwell on last year’s struggles after taking out the exhibition Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
Nadal – a 14-time grand slam champion – brought in the New Year in ideal fashion by accounting for Canadian Milos Raonic 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 in Saturday’s final in Abu Dhabi.
The 29-year-old Spaniard’s success came after an inconsistent season in 2015, which saw him win three titles in Buenos Aires, Stuttgart and Hamburg but fail to reach a grand slam final for the first time since 2004.
But Nadal, who made quarter-final appearances at the Australian and French Opens, is just focused on the year ahead with a trip to Melbourne Park looming.
“It is a great way to start the new season, winning against two of the best players in the world, without a doubt,” Nadal told reporters as he turns his attention to the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, where he will officially open his ATP Tour season.
“Playing at the right level, a very good level of tennis, so happy for that and happy to win the title here in Abu Dhabi again. I tried hard every year but I felt that this year I arrived in very good shape so it is good to start like this.
“I don’t work to be back, I work to be better than what I was, two months ago, three months ago, five months ago. I work to improve my level all the time and I don’t think about what has happened five or three years ago. I think about what happened yesterday to improve today and that is my philosophy and I work that way, with that mentality.
“I feel that last year was a tough year for me in terms of the mental part, in terms of tennis when my mentality…when I was able to fix my mental problems I started to play much better. I am feeling good now, I feel ready for the action, ready for the competition. Then we will see if I am able to keep doing it for the rest of the season.
“We don’t live about the past, and at the same time I am not talking about the titles I had in 2013 or 2010 so I don’t want to talk about 2015 anymore. We are in 2016 and I talked enough about 2015 during the past year and I want to talk about today and what’s going on tomorrow.”