Rafael Nadal did not have an easy 2021, especially due to a series of physical problems. The former world number 1 did not start the season in the best way due to a pain in his back, which prevented him from doing his best at the Australian Open.
The Spanish phenomenon has come back in fairly good form in the red tournaments, where he has picked up two titles respectively in Barcelona and Rome. A rather meager booty compared to his habits. His main goal was obviously Roland Garros, where he hoped to score his 21st career Slam.
His run in Paris was interrupted in the semifinals by Novak Djokovic, able to benefit from a Rafa not in top condition. During that match, the most observant began to notice the Majorcan's foot injury. It is no coincidence that the 35-year-old Iberian has decided to skip both Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics to try to recover form.
His last appearance dates back to the ATP in Washington, where a couple of matches were enough for him to understand that his 2021 could not continue. Interviewed by Norah O'Donnell for CBS News, the 20-time Grand Slam champion revealed his method for managing pressure and stress.
Rafael Nadal did not have an easy 2021
"Honestly, it's the same as always (on how important it is for him to win the US Open)," Rafael Nadal said. "The fact that Novak has 20, Roger has 20, I have 20 don't increase the motivation for me, or the pressure.
My approach will not change. I always stay the same. I play my way. If Novak or Roger plays there and win, okay, well done for them," he added. "I will not be frustrated for that. I know I achieve something that I never dreamed about, and I'm gonna keep fighting, keep doing things."
The Spaniard highlighted that crowds are an integral part of sport and help older players such as himself by boosting their morale on court. "Of course, I think that sport, in general, needs a crowd," Nadal said.
"I think it's tougher for the more older players than for the younger players because the younger players, they have the energy for everything. Everybody approaches the issues in a different way," the 35-year-old said.
"We are under pressure because the competition makes you feel more stress. But, at the same time, we are super lucky, you know, because we are able to work on one of our hobbies."