Rafael Nadal of Team Spain waves to the spectators after winning the doubles match and the tie against Team Japan during day six of the 2020 ATP Cup Group Stage at RAC Arena on January 08, 2020 in Perth, Australia. Picture: PAUL KANE / GETTY IMAGES
Rafael Nadal of Team Spain waves to the spectators after winning the doubles match and the tie against Team Japan during day six of the 2020 ATP Cup Group Stage at RAC Arena on January 08, 2020 in Perth, Australia. Picture: PAUL KANE / GETTY IMAGES

Perth — World No 1 Rafael Nadal insisted on Wednesday he is not focused on matching Roger Federer’s record grand slam haul at the upcoming Australian Open.

The 33-year-old won the French and US Open titles in 2019 to move within one of his Swiss rival’s record tally of 20.

Federer has sat on top of the list since 2009 when he passed Pete Sampras’s benchmark of 14 after winning a five-set thriller over Andy Roddick at Wimbledon.

A Nadal triumph in Melbourne could set the stage for him to set a new landmark at Roland Garros, where he will start hot favourite to add to his 12 French Open titles. But the Spaniard downplayed the potential historical implications after steering Spain into the ATP Cup quarterfinals.

“I honestly don’t think much [about Federer’s record],” Nadal said. “My only goal is to keep playing good tennis, keep enjoying this sport and being happy. And if that happens and I stay healthy then the goal is to keep producing chances in the events that I’m going to play.”

Nadal’s immediate focus is leading Spain’s title charge at the inaugural ATP Cup. Unbeaten Spain qualified for the knockout stages in Sydney after sweeping Japan in Group B in Perth with Nadal yet to drop a set from his three matches.

The 19-time grand slam winner, however, was pushed by
in-form world No 72 Yoshihito Nishioka before prevailing 7-6 (7/4) 6-4 in two hours and seven minutes. Nadal made 36 unforced errors and appeared weary at times in Spain’s first-day session tie in Perth’s warm conditions.

“It was the first experience with the heat here in Australia, so we played under heavy conditions and it was tough,” he said. “I played against a player who has started the season on fire, so it was an important victory for me and the team.” 

AFP