By Dialogo September 01, 2009 Rafael Nadal is about to compete in the U.S. Open following his recent return to competition after more than seventy days away from the courts due to tendinitis in his knees, but motivated to try to win the only Grand Slam title lacking on his list of victories, despite the limited preparation he has been able to do for the event. The Spanish tennis player is ready for his first appearance, possibly on Tuesday, against Frenchman Richard Gasquet. “I got here in better shape than expected, but I’m conscious of the fact that I’ve never gotten past the semifinals. If I make it to the quarterfinals or semifinals, I believe that it will be a great tournament for me, and I’ll probably go home satisfied, but later on, over the length of my career, that won’t count for anything. Especially here, at the only Grand Slam tournament I haven’t won. That’s why I’m here to win. If not, I probably wouldn’t have come,” Nadal said. His semifinal appearance last year, when he lost to British player Andy Murray, is the best result that the native of the Balearics has obtained at Flushing Meadows. The Scotsman is precisely the one who has pushed him out of second place in the rankings, marking the first time in the last four years that he will face the season’s last Grand Slam tournament ranked at number three. “I don’t believe that it makes a difference for me that I’m starting out this time as number three. I don’t know how it could make a difference for me to start out as number three,” Rafael Nadal said. Following more than two months without playing due to injury, the Spanish tennis player rejected the idea that he might “be under less pressure” than on other occasions when he has competed in the U.S. Open. “The pressure in the end is the pressure you put on yourself. You know how you are and what you need to do. Less pressure because I’m coming off of an injury? The pressure is what it is. It’s logical that I won’t win the tournament, but I’m here to try to win it,” the number-three player in the world insisted. Rafael Nadal thinks positively. He looks toward the future and feels that his return to competition “isn’t a return, because I haven’t left.” “No, I don’t feel that I have bad luck. I haven’t been worrying about losing the number-one ranking or the number-two ranking. What happened at Roland Garros and missing Wimbledon wasn’t very pleasant, but it’s all been the consequence of showing up poorly prepared. At the beginning it was an almost perfect season; I was playing better than ever. With great results. The best of my career, undoubtedly. I’ve worked hard, and it’s not the case that I’m returning. It’s that I haven’t left. I’m number three in the world. That’s the reality. I’ve played quarterfinal and semifinal matches on hard courts now, in Montreal and Cincinnati. I see myself doing well and capable of winning big tournaments again as soon as possible,” the Spanish tennis player emphasized. The tennis player from Manacor is hopeful about his chances in the tournament and doing something significant. What happened at the Australian Open is an example “You never know what can happen. When I got to Australia, I wasn’t thinking about whether I might win or lose. I worked hard enough to find inspiration and be entirely focused on the competition,” he remembers. “I’ve trained well, following my normal routine, I’ve felt that I’ve been doing well, and now we’ll see. I’m well, calm, and prepared to do the best I can,” Nadal added, emphasizing his “great excitement about participating in this tournament and doing well in it.” “The U.S. Open is a Grand Slam tournament; that’s the first thing. And then it’s in New York, a special city for me, and one of the most important cities in the world. I believe there’s nothing that doesn’t make this tournament special,” Nadal said, eager to start competing in order to evaluate how he feels and judge the level at which he may be able to perform during the tournament. The Spanish tennis player, who acknowledged that he had not been able to follow the opening match of his favorite team, Real Madrid, in the Spanish soccer league – “I wasn’t fortunate enough to be able to watch Madrid play, and now we we’ll see what happens, although there’s high excitement and high expectations” – admitted that he had been more surprised that Swiss tennis player Roger Federer was the father of twins than that he finished first at Roland Garros. “It was more surprising to me that he had twins, because I hadn’t known that. That he won at Roland Garros was more normal. He’s always made it to the finals or semifinals, and it was normal that he would end up winning. Besides, he deserved it,” the Spanish tennis player concluded.