Rafael Nadal recalls: 'Enjoying the sport at this stage is a gift'



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Rafael Nadal recalls: 'Enjoying the sport at this stage is a gift'

Rafael Nadal is still among the world's best players at 36. The Spaniard claimed two Major titles this year to top the charts and missed a chance to become world no. 1 after the US Open. Despite numerous injuries and setbacks, Rafa still enjoys his time on the court, blessed for 20 years on the Tour and eager for more in the next couple of seasons.

After ten incredible years on the Tour, Rafa lost steam in the second part of 2014 due to injuries. Winning only a couple of ATP titles by the end of 2016, Nadal struggled to find form in those years and challenge his rivals from the top.

Nonetheless, the Spaniard remained in the top-10 despite taking only one Masters 1000 title, recovering ahead of 2017 and returning where he belongs. Rafa conquered six trophies in 2017, including two Majors and two Masters 1000 tournaments.

He earned the year-end no. 1 honor for the first time in 2013 and completed an impressive comeback. The Spaniard added a Major and three Masters 1000 trophies to his tally in 2018. He spent most of the season at the top before Novak Djokovic passed him in the closing stages after Rafa closed the year following the US Open semi-final loss to Juan Martin del Potro.

Nadal chose his schedule wisely in 2019 and delivered steady results and four notable titles. He regained the ATP throne from Novak and became the oldest year-end no. 1 player in ATP history at 33 at that moment. There were injuries, but they could not disturb the Spaniard's rhythm.

Rafael Nadal spoke about his career at the end of 2019.

He failed to reach the semi-final only twice and turned his deep runs into trophies in Rome, Roland Garros, Montreal and the US Open to leave the rivals behind him and write history.

Rafa wrapped up the 2019 season with his fifth Mubadala World Tennis Championship crown following an epic final against Stefanos Tsitsipas. Nadal expressed his appreciation for competing at this level so late in his career, showing an incredible desire to extend his tennis journey as long as possible.

As many times before, Rafa had to start all over in 2022 after missing the second part of the previous season. The Spaniard made a perfect start and claimed the opening two Majors to stand on 22 and leave Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic behind.

"The motivation is to keep doing something that is not forever. Keep doing something that you have prepared all your life to do, and honestly, it's a gift for me to keep enjoying this sport at the highest level at this point in my career.

I want to try to stay in this situation as long as possible, and that's why I'm doing things the right way every day," Rafael Nadal said.