At 36, Rafael Nadal is still among the world's best players. The Spaniard will have an opportunity to become world no. 1 in the upcoming weeks, something he could have only dreamed about a year ago. Rafa played only two matches in the second part of the 2021 season after Roland Garros, struggling with a foot injury and resting his body ahead of a brilliant comeback this season.
Nadal claimed two titles in 2021, conquering Barcelona and Rome after fending off three match points in two matches versus Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov. Throwing everything at Roland Garros, Rafa failed to claim the 14th Parisian title after losing to Novak Djokovic in a thrilling semi-final that lasted four hours and 11 minutes.
Ahead of Roland Garros, Nadal was eager to leave Monte Carlo and Madrid losses behind him and be a contender for another crown in Paris. Also, Rafa spoke about his longevity, never believing he would still be active in his mid-30s.
Rafael Nadal is still among the world's best players despite the injuries.
"No one is invincible, anywhere. I lost early in Monte Carlo and Madrid this year, hoping to avoid that at Roland Garros. I will give my best to chase another title.
Ten years ago, I did not think I would still be active in my mid-30s. On the other hand, things looked good two years ago, and I knew I still had a couple of good seasons in front of me. I had so many problems with injuries in the past, and it was not easy to imagine that my career would last so long.
Roland Garros is an exceptional place for me. What matters in the next two weeks is to play well, being the favorite or not. The one who produces the best tennis will have the most chances to go all the way; my goal is to be the one who plays on the highest level.
I played better in Monte Carlo and Rome than at Roland Garros in my early years. It's more challenging to have a good feeling at Roland Garros; the court is enormous, and there are different sensations. Even though I do not like to say it, what I have achieved in Paris is extraordinary," Rafael Nadal said.