Rafael Nadal: Team Europe Warriors | news

Amidst an outstanding season at the age of 36 in a career that has already been labeled legendary, Rafael Nadal says the key to his golden success is no secret: hard work pays off.

“Nothing is possible without dedication, especially at this point in my career,” said Nadal, who earlier this year added to his long list of titles with victories at both the Australian Open and French Open – a record 22 grand slams combined.

“It’s about discipline, every day on the practice court – and in the gym – and I think I’ve managed quite well to still be committed and professional and still do things professionally,” added the Spaniard. “Every time the challenge gets bigger [and] I hope that I will be ready for it.”

Nadal is once again gearing up to compete for Team Europe, but this time as part of a never-before-seen lineup with rival-turned-teammates Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Among them, they have won 66 Major titles, a dynasty that has lasted since Federer’s breakthrough Grand Slam Major singles title at Wimbledon in 2003 at the age of 21.

“It’s going to be unique — it’s never happened before and probably never will happen again,” he says. “It’s a special week in a special atmosphere. How can we work together as a team? We have to play in such a way that we can win.”

Never looking forward, Nadal explains that while history may be on Team Europe’s side, the challenge on the net will come from Team World’s younger lineup.

“We have undoubtedly been part of our sporting history for 20 years,” says Nadal about himself, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. “It is true that we are also getting older. Team Europe’s numbers are amazing, but we still have to compete and play. On the other side of the net are great players trying to win their first Laver Cup.”

The venue is familiar to Team Europe, having hosted the ATP Finals at London’s O2 Arena for the past decade. Nadal is a two-time finalist at this event; Federer, Djokovic and Murray have all taken the crown.

“The O2 has seen a lot of tennis over the past 10 years. It’s an incredible place,” says Nadal. “I think the atmosphere will be fantastic. We expect a great atmosphere and lots of fun.”

Rafael Nadal takes his place among the Grand Slam greats at Team Europe's 2022 media conference ahead of the 2022 Laver Cup.

Rafael Nadal takes his place among the Grand Slam greats at Team Europe’s 2022 media conference ahead of the 2022 Laver Cup.

How it is going

Nadal started the season with 21 straight wins, including an unexpected 21St big crown at the AO and also won titles in Melbourne and Acapulco. His success was all the more astounding given that Nadal had been struggling with a chronic foot problem a few months earlier.

While he failed to win a clay court event leading up to Roland-Garros, Nadal didn’t let that stop him from claiming an amazing 14th French Open before storming into the Wimbledon semi-finals, only nullified by a torn abdominal muscle.

Team World’s Frances Tiafoe made an inspired effort to beat Nadal in four sets at the US Open in the fourth round, leaving Nadal with an overall record of 38-5 for the season leading up to the 2022 Laver Cup.

Play at the Laver Cup

While Nadal is famous for his dedication on every point, the Tour veteran is well aware of the unique Laver Cup atmosphere, particularly with Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud cheering him on.

“I always enjoy playing team competitions, without a doubt,” he says. “I haven’t been able to play on a team as much as I would like. It’s so special. When you share a win, a loss, happy moments, bad moments – things are better. Better than when you are alone.”

He says of his team: “We look forward to playing together. We look forward to a week together in a positive team spirit.”

But why was Team Europe so successful? And what makes the Laver Cup format so different from other sporting events?

“The secret is that we played better,” he says. “Although a few [years] were very, very close. The way the Laver Cup scores is very dangerous. Even if you start well and think you’re in control, anything can happen on the last day. If you don’t start well and seem to be in a difficult position on the final day, if you can win these games you can still make it. That makes the competition very special, very emotional. Even when you have an advantage, you know that every match is going to be a fight and anything can happen.”

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