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Rafael Nadal a hard-court master heading into U.S. Open

NEW YORK -- Rafael Nadal has won 12 Grand Slam singles titles, an enviable record. But eight of those have come on the soft red clay at the French Open.

So after Nadal lost in the first round at Wimbledon to unheralded Steve Darcis two months ago, few would have predicted he would respond with a perfect 10-0 mark on hard courts this summer, winning two titles and acting as if he was 20 again with fresh, healthy knees, not 27 with aches and pains that make him testy when he's asked to talk about them.

Of course Nadal was asked about how his knees feel after his summer run.

"I get tired of this question because every time is the same," Nadal said Saturday. "But I think nobody in my family, on my team, who has been close to me seven months ago thought that I could come back like this. I feel very lucky. I feel very happy to be in this position."

As for his summer season, his titles at Montreal and Cincinnati, Nadal shook his head and said, "The season is not over for me. It's been great but it's no time now to think about what happened.  It's only time to think about what's going on, that tomorrow will be the last practice before my first match of the U.S. Open. That's what is important today, try to be ready for the first round of the U.S. Open. "

Nadal, who is 15-0 in hard-court matches this year counting his title run at Indian Wells in March, drew American Ryan Harrison as his opening opponent in New York. "I am only focused on that," Nadal said. "At the end of the season, I will analyze my year."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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