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ROGER FEDERER

‘I’m not aiming to beat Federer’s record’: Nadal

Eight-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal said in an interview published on Tuesday that he is not setting his sights on Roger Federer's record of 17 Grand Slam titles, despite claiming his 12th at Roland Garros last weekend.

'I'm not aiming to beat Federer's record': Nadal
Nadal has clocked up 12 tennis Grand Slam titles and is now only five behind all-time record holder Roger Federer. Photo:Stephen Dunn/Getty Images North America/AFP

A comfortable three-set victory over compatriot David Ferrer moved Nadal into joint third on the all-time list of Grand Slam winners alongside Australian Roy Emerson.

That came after he only recently returned from seven months out with a knee injury.

But Nadal claimed he was happy just to be on the court again.

"It is something that right now I see as light years away, it is not something I am planning," he said of Federer's record in an interview with Spanish sports daily Marca.

Nadal's form since returning to the tour in February has been remarkable.

He has reached nine consecutive finals, winning seven tournaments in the process and said he was delighted with how his knee has reacted to such a heavy workload throughout the clay court season.

"Three months ago I was limp. At the start I was very sore but with the competition the feelings didn't get worse but better and this is great news," he added.

"In the next few days I will have the knee checked after many consecutive weeks without doing so. I hope that the results are satisfactory because it has held up very well."

Having retained his French Open title, the 27-year-old's attention now turns to trying to win a third title on the grass at Wimbledon.

The Spaniard will miss a planned warm-up event at Halle, Germany, to ensure he is well-rested on his arrival in southwest London, but admitted that could make him susceptible to an upset in the early rounds.

Nadal suffered the shock of the tournament last year when he was ousted by the then world number 100 Lukas Rosol in five sets in the second round and he was hoping to avoid a powerful hitter like the Czech in the opening rounds.

"To start with it will (be more difficult not having played a warm-up event on grass). Afterwards you never know. We will see if I can have good training sessions there and manage to get through the first few rounds," he went on.

"What I want are players that give you rhythm and that help you to be able to win. Not those that end the point with one stroke."

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RAFAEL NADAL

‘I was down mentally and physically’ admits Rafa Nadal on winning 12th Roland Garros title

Rafael Nadal admitted that his record 12th Roland Garros title was one of his most special after an injury-hit start to 2019 had left him "down mentally and physically" and questioning his love for the sport.

'I was down mentally and physically' admits Rafa Nadal on winning 12th Roland Garros title
Nadal celebrates after winning his 12th title in Paris. Photo: AFP

The 33-year-old swept to an 18th Grand Slam crown with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Austria's Dominic Thiem in a repeat of the 2018 final.

Nadal is now just two behind Roger Federer's all-time record of 20 majors and three ahead of Novak Djokovic who was knocked out by Thiem in the semi-finals.

However, Nadal said that his troubled season leading up to the French Open had left him facing new fears about his ability to defend his title in Paris.

“I was not enjoying it too much, I was worried about my health. I was down mentally and physically after Indian Wells,” said Nadal.

“I was too negative. After Madrid and Barcelona, I was thinking about what I needed to do. I could stop for a while and recover or change my attitude and recover.”


An emotional Nadal collects his prize. Photo: AFP

After a loss in the Australian Open final to Djokovic where he won just eight games, a second round exit in Acapulco was followed by a withdrawal from the semi-finals in Indian Wells, when a knee injury meant that an eagerly-awaited clash with Federer was shelved.

His return in the clay court season saw semi-finals losses in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid before a much needed title triumph in Rome.

“This is a very satisfying victory. In 2018, I only played nine events and finished just seven of them,” he added.

“I had issues with my knee and surgery on my foot, so many issues in the last 18 months that have made the last few weeks very special.”

Nadal revealed that in Barcelona, he had locked himself away where he ended up questioning where his season was heading.

“Mentally, I lost a little bit of that energy, because I had too many issues in a row. It is tough when you receive one after another, and then sometimes you are groggy,” he explained.

“In Barcelona, I was able to stay alone for a couple of hours in the room and think about what's going on, what I need to do.

“One possibility was to stop for a while and recover my body. And the other was change drastically my attitude and my mentality to play the next couple of weeks.

“Thinking a lot, finally I think I was able to change and was able to fight back for every small improvement that I was able to make that happen.”

 

World number two Nadal took his Paris record to an astonishing 93 wins and just two losses having previously won the title in 2005-2008, 2010-2014, 2017 and 2018.

It also gave him an 82nd career title and 950th match win.

“All the things that I went through probably give me that extra passion when I am playing, because I know I will not be here forever.

“So I just try to be positive, to be intense, and to be passionate about what I am doing.”

Nike produced a compliation video of Nadal, beginning when he was just 16 years-old. 

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