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Nadal still loves London despite concerns

Ismail Vedat at the O2
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Rafael Nadal has only won two indoor titles during his career © AP
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Despite struggling at the ATP World Tour Finals in an indoor arena, Rafael Nadal insists he loves taking part in the event in London.

The world No. 1 has yet to lift the season-ending tournament having been a losing finalist three years ago, but despite his concerns over the surface and the prestige event being so different to the majority of the season, the eight-time French Open champion feels special to participate at the O2.

"It is a fantastic stadium. It's a stadium that I really love, and is one of the best stadiums that I ever played," Nadal said in his post-match press conference after beating David Ferrer.

"I enjoy it every time. First of all, what it means to be playing here is because you had a great season, and at the same time the atmosphere, the combination of the lights is great. I really enjoy it so much."

Nadal returned to the circuit in February 2013 having been sidelined for over seven months with a knee injury - forcing him to skip the World Tour Finals - and says it hurt him not to take part in the event a year ago.

"Even if I was not able to play my best a lot of times here, I really have great feelings every time I have the chance to be playing in this stadium," he said. "Last year was a big miss for me. I always come here with the motivation to play well. Sometimes I didn't play my best, other times I played well."

Nadal kicked off his quest for a maiden World Tour Finals triumph with a straight-sets win over Ferrer, and less than 24 hours later will face Stanislas Wawrinka in a tie that pits the two winners in the group so far against each other.

And the Spaniard wished he had Wawrinka's luxury of getting an extra day off after playing his opening group game on Monday.

"I would love to have one day off because at the end [following the Paris Masters] didn't have a lot of time to prepare for this tournament," Nadal stated.

"It's always great when you win a match, then have the day off to confirm the feelings, to keep doing the things that you need to keep playing well.

"But the tournament decided that it's the other side of the draw that have the day off. Talking about physically, that's not going to affect tomorrow. I didn't have a demanding physical match today, so I hope that I will be 100% for tomorrow physically. But talking about tennis, I would prefer to have one day off. But that's what it is, and I have to accept and try to play my best tomorrow."

Nadal has only won two indoor titles during his career, and on the back of his pre-tournament statements was asked to pinpoint why he has been unable to deliver his best under a roof.

"I like the sunshine," Nadal joked in response to the question. "It is a bit different, the feeling of the ball, on your racquet, is different. The sound is different. All of these small things that make you feel a little strange. At the end I didn't play a lot in indoors in my career, so that's another point."

Nadal's remarks about calling for a surface change led critics to believe he does not enjoy playing indoors, but he was quick to deny such suggestions, saying: "It is not a thing that I don't like playing indoors. I like to play indoors, but it's true that the feeling on the ball is a little bit more strange than when you play outside."

On his remaining group games against Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych, Nadal stressed the need to be at his strongest against players who are more comfortable in the event conditions.

"To win against Wawrinka and Berdych, I need to play my best, [on] surfaces that are favourable for them, or a little less positive for me. So if I don't play my best, [it] will be very tough to have another victory, but I'm going to try," Nadal explained.

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