When Rafael Nadal wanted to play until 50 to match Roger Federer's record
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 10210
The 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal will not play in the rest of the season, struggling with a foot injury since June. Following the Roland Garros semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic, Rafa tested his foot in two matches in Washington in August before deciding to skip the remaining events and prepare for a fresh start in 2022.
Two years ago, Nadal played on a high level to catch and pass Djokovic in the year-end no. 1 battle, finishing the season with two Major titles and hoping for a strong start of the 2020 campaign. Nadal kicked off the 2020 season at the inaugural ATP Cup in Perth, leading his country's attempts to secure the second consecutive team crown after the Davis Cup Finals.
Rafa won all three singles round-robin encounters, beating Nikoloz Basilashvili, Pablo Cuevas and Yoshihito Nishioka to propel Spain into the quarters. After a hard-fought victory over the Japanese, Nadal received the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the third time, repeating the honor he previously achieved in 2010 and 2018.
Established in 1977, the ATP Sportsmanship Award had its regular owner between 1988-1995, with Stefan Edberg taking five honors in those years. Known as one of the most composed and well-received players on the Tour, the ATP recognized Edberg in 1996 when the award took his name, portrayed as the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award since then.
Rafael Nadal received the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award in January 2020.
In the last 26 years, Alex Corretja, Patrick Rafter, Paradorn Srichaphan, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were the only winners of the award voted by the players themselves, with Federer and Nadal taking every single one since 2004!
Nadal earned it in 2010 and 2018, while Federer grabbed all the remaining years (although it is not entirely clear what you have to do to secure the award), receiving the honor for the 13th time back in 2017. After winning it in 2018, Nadal was nominated for the 2019 season together with Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem and Diego Schwartzman, beating the rivals to become the third player since 1996 with three Stefan Edberg awards after Patrick Rafter and Roger Federer.
Last year, Rafa claimed the honor again to become only the fourth player with four Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship awards. "To receive the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the third time means a lot to me. As I always say, winning titles and matches is important, but it is even more significant for the crowd and other players to remember you as a nice person.
For my entire career, I have been trying to control myself and bring the right attitude in every point, fighting until the end and respect every opponent. I want to thank my colleagues on the Tour for thinking that I'm the right person to receive this great honor. Maybe I can play until 50 and catch Roger Federer, who has won the award 13 times," Rafael Nadal said.