“I feel good considering the calendar this year, which was terrorizing,” Nadal said Wednesday, two days before the opening of the Beijing Olympics. “It’s been a good year, but a difficult one.”
So good a year that on Aug. 18 Nadal will assume the No. 1 ranking to snap Roger Federer’s 237-week reign as the world’s top player. As always, Nadal was trying to downplay the importance of the feat and stay focused on winning Olympic gold, which would be his seventh title this season.
[ All Access: 2008 Beijing Olympics ]
“Right now I don’t really have time to enjoy that because I want to take in the Olympic Games, I want to take in the Olympic experience. It’s special. It’s an experience you never forget,” the Spaniard said.
The 22-year-old Nadal isn’t getting caught up in his new ranking, even with a third Grand Slam title in 2008 available at the upcoming U.S. Open. In the Chinese capital, the four-time French Open champion will compete in the singles from his familiar No. 2 seeding, where he has been firmly planted behind Federer since July 25, 2005.
“Not one of us is up here thinking about points. We’re only thinking about our country,” he said.
In last month’s Wimbledon final, Nadal beat Federer for the fourth time this season—all in finals.
That win in early July not only snapped Federer’s five-year winning streak at the All England Club, but it contributed to a number of Spanish triumphs this summer.
Spain’s soccer team won its first major championship trophy in 44 years at the European Championship in June and Carlos Sastre made it three straight Spanish champions with his victory at the Tour de France.
“What we’ve done this year is fantastic, nearly impossible,” Nadal said about Spain’s Beijing Games expectations. “What we’ve done this year will be difficult to repeat.”
The men’s team is expected to medal through Nadal in singles and possibly doubles, and teammate David Ferrer can’t think of any better player to count on than the five-time Grand Slam winner.
“It’s important for the Spanish team, for our tennis to have the best player in Spanish history there to help us win,” the fifth-ranked Ferrer said.
The women are also looking to draw off of Nadal and Spain’s success.