When it comes to persistence and mental stability, one of the athletes that immediately comes to mind is Rafael Nadal. Contrary to what many insiders thought, the Spanish phenomenon has managed to have a very long career at the highest levels.
The former world number 1, who played his last match at Roland Garros, is preparing to return to the field at the prestigious ATP in Washington this week. After the semi-final defeat in Paris against Novak Djokovic, the physicist imposed a two-month break on the Iberian to recharge his batteries and avoid injuries.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion therefore gave up on both Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, which crowned Alexander Zverev in the final over Karen Khachanov. The 35-year-old from Manacor will make his debut against host Jack Sock, who has shown signs of recovery in recent months.
Rafa's goal is to be in 100% form for the start of the US Open, where he will hunt for his fifth seal. In a press conference before his Washington debut, Nadal addressed the delicate issue of mental health. This topic took center stage during the Tokyo Games, mainly due to the experiences of Naomi Osaka and gymnast Simone Biles.
Rafael Nadal on Simone Biles
"I respect her decision 100%. When you have been fighting your whole life to achieve your dreams, you can go through times when you don't feel ready. Simone Biles has achieved impressive things throughout her career and I am sure that she will return to her best.
But if at this moment she does not see herself prepared or capable of competing, why should she?", argued Rafael Nadal, aware of Biles's decision to compete in just one of the tests in which he was going look for the medal at the olympic event.
There are many athletes who have publicly supported the decision of the American and, surely, these words will be one more step in the necessary process of making the world see the difficulty of staying in the elite without affecting the emotional ups and downs.
In a recent interview, Nadal revealed that he really needed a break from tennis after his French Open 2021 loss. He explained that he was physically exhausted and his body needed some rest. “Well, more than I need the break is – I don’t have a lot of chances to choose.
I had some physical issues,” began Nadal. “I had some good practices in Mallorca but yeah, of course, when you get to a tournament to practice with the guys again, to find the rhythm, the competitive level. So, that’s the work that I have to do”.