August 24, 2018 / 7:34 PM / a year ago

Nadal confident ahead of U.S. Open title defense

Aug 12, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Rafael Nadal (ESP) returns a ball to Stefanos Tsitsipas (not pictured) during the championship in the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at Aviva Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rafael Nadal is full of confidence and ready to defend his U.S. Open title, having enjoyed a blockbuster 2017 by claiming the French and U.S. majors after a three-year Grand Slam trophy drought.

The world number one told reporters on Friday that his strong performances this season — including clinching yet another Roland Garros title in June — have given him momentum heading into the fourth major of the year next week.

“That’s important for the feelings, the confidence,” Nadal said. “I am here just trying to improve every day.”

For Nadal, whose record 11 French Open titles have earned himself the moniker King of Clay, trophies on the U.S. Open’s hard courts have been relatively harder to come by. Before 2017, Nadal had won the tournament twice, in 2010 and 2013.

Despite a semi-final exit at Wimbledon last month, the Spaniard is relying on memories of last year’s win at Flushing Meadows to spur him on.

“Last year (was) a very special year. 2015 was not a positive year in terms of tennis,” Nadal said, referring to the period when he struggled for form.

“(To) win on hard (court) again is something that means a lot to me, especially here in New York.”

Reporting By Amy Tennery; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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