Rafa entered both the singles and doubles here. In doubles he partnered with Fernando Verdasco. They lost their first match to Teymuraz Gabashvili and Albert Ramos-Vinolas in a very close contest, 7-6(4), 4-6, 9-11.
"Well, I have been winning here a lot of years doubles, so hopefully thatís the good news that I lost this time in doubles that I hope to be ready for singles. Todayís match was a match that we had a lot of chances and was not the day to win. And thatís it."
Last year he lost his opening singles match here so we were hoping for better. And we got it. He may not have won the title (when, you are up against someone who is playing, as Rafa put it, "stratosferico" in the final, your chances are slim), but he overcame some tricky opponents on the way.
Round of 32 - Pablo Carreno Busta 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1
"Starting the season with a victory is so important. Well, the negative thing is the condition changed a lot from here to Abu Dhabi. In Abu Dhabi it was hotter and here is colder and it has been so windy the two days of preparation for me, so I couldnít practice the way I needed to adapt. So it was a big change in terms of ball feeling on court."
"But Pablo played well. I had chances in the beginning of the match but couldnít convert. And then he played well at the end of the set. And then I think I changed a little bit at the beginning of the second. I played with a little bit higher intensity and being a little bit more aggressive, going a little bit more for the shots. When I was able to make that happen, everything changed. So very happy the way that I managed to change the dynamic of the match, and I think I finished the match playing well."
Round of 16 - Robin Haase 6-3, 6-2
"I played at a very high level against a good opponent today. My serve was a little bit worse than yesterday, but in general I am happy with the victory and my level of tennis. I hit my returns with a lot of confidence."
Quarter final - Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
"Kuznetsov played some amazing shots, so it was difficult to control the match. Itís true that I missed my serve more than I wanted to, but I really only played one bad game, at 4-3 in the second set. His returns were amazing and his level was very high. Fortunately I played a great third set, with a lot of intensity."
Semi final - Illya Marchenko 6-3,6-4
"Not perfect, obviously. But I did a few good things, and I'm happy with the victory, being in the first final of the season in the first official tournament is something great, very good news, very happy for that. "
"For sure is important for me for my confidence, confirm that the end of 2015 season had been something realistic and this beginning of 2016 I still playing well, so I'm able to already won four matches here and be in the final. Have points, have confidence, and rhythm. So everything is all positive."
Final - Novak Djokovic 1-6, 2-6
"I played against a player who is playing on a level that is difficult to imagine that someone can play that good. So I just congratulate him for a great effort. I am here to fight again and I am going go keep working so hard to be ready for Australia and the rest of the season."
Siempre contigo, Rafa