Rafael Nadal recalls: 'Enjoying the sport at this stage is a gift'

“The joy of sport in this phase is a gift”

At 36 years old, Rafael Nadal is still among the world’s best players. The Spaniard clinched two Major titles this year to top the charts and missed the chance to become world No. 1. 1 after the US Open. Despite numerous injuries and setbacks, Rafa is still enjoying his time on the court, blessed with 20 years on the Tour and eager for more in the next couple of seasons.

After ten incredible years on the Tour, Rafa lost strength in the second part of 2014 due to injuries. Nadal only won a couple of ATP titles by the end of 2016 and struggled to find form and challenge his rivals from the top during those years.

Still, the Spaniard stayed in the top-10 despite clinching just one Masters 1000 title, rebounding ahead of 2017 and getting back to where he belongs. Rafa won six trophies in 2017, including two Majors and two Masters 1000 tournaments.

He earned year-end no. 1 honor for the first time in 2013 and made an impressive comeback. The Spaniard added a Major and three Masters 1000 trophies to his tally in 2018. He spent most of the season at the top before Novak Djokovic overtook him in the closing stages after Rafa ended the year after losing in the US Open semifinals to Juan Martin del Potro.

Nadal chose his 2019 schedule wisely, delivering stable results and four notable titles. He reclaimed the ATP throne from Novak and at the end of the year became the oldest No. 1 player in ATP history at 33 at that moment. There were injuries, but they couldn’t upset the Spaniard’s rhythm.

Rafael Nadal spoke about his career at the end of 2019.

He failed to make the semifinals just twice and turned his deep runs into trophies in Rome, Roland Garros, Montreal and the US Open to overtake the rivals and make history.

Rafa ended the 2019 season with his fifth crown at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships after an epic final against Stefanos Tsitsipas. Nadal expressed his appreciation for being able to compete at this level so late in his career and showed an incredible desire to extend his tennis journey for as long as possible.

As so often before, Rafa had to start over in 2022 after missing the second part of last season. The Spaniard got off to a perfect start, claiming the first two Majors to sit in 22nd, leaving Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic behind.

“The motivation is to do something that is not forever. Keep doing what you’ve been preparing your whole life for and honestly it’s a gift for me to continue enjoying this sport at the highest level at this point in my career.

I want to try to stay in this situation as long as possible and that’s why I do things right every day,” said Rafael Nadal.

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