Rafael Nadal: 'I have the illusion of having...'
by SIMONE BRUGNOLI | VIEW 1177
The ATP ranking started in August 1973. Five decades later, only six 30-year-old players are in the top-2 of the year. John Newcombe and Jimmy Connors did it in the '70s and '80s before Andre Agassi joined the party in 2002 aged 32 years and eight months.
Roger Federer raised the bar in 2017, becoming the first 36-year-old to make the Top 2 of the Year list. Novak Djokovic did it at the age of 34 last season, placing second behind the Swiss. Rafael Nadal embraced a great run in 2022 to steal Federer's record and top the list.
Rafa finished the season in the top two at 36 years and six months, becoming the oldest player in the top two! Nadal finished the season inside the top-2 17 years after first achieving it, in another testament to his incredible longevity.
Nadal missed the second part of 2021 with foot problems and returned to perfection this season. The veteran endured all the obstacles at the Australian Open. He came back from a 6-2, 7-6, 3-2, 40-0 loss to Daniil Medvedev in the final to lift Melbourne Park's first trophy in 13 years.
Nadal prevailed in five sets after five hours and 24 minutes to become the first player with 21 Major crowns. Rafa conquered Acapulco in February and reached the Indian Wells final for a perfect 20-0 start to the season. However, the Spaniard broke a rib in the semifinal against Carlos Alcaraz and lost the title match against Taylor Fritz.
Nadal missed Monte Carlo and Barcelona and lost ground and form. Rafa returned to action in Madrid and Rome and had trouble getting the best of him. His left foot bothered him again, and the clouds hung over him before Roland Garros.
Nadal required injections before every match in Paris to ease the pain and compete at a good enough level to challenge for the title.
Rafa on his plans for the 2023 season
Rafael Nadal touched on his own plans for the 2023 season in the interview, stating that he expects to have a good year and compete at the highest level once again.
"Things change very fast in sports. But I have the illusion of having a good year again and giving myself options to compete again at the highest level. Later, I am aware that I am the age that I am, and that things happen," Nadal said.
"I will have to manage it in the best possible way and try to do my best to give myself real options." Nadal lost in the fourth round of the US Open to Frances Tiafoe and missed the opportunity to conquer the throne of the ATP.
The Spaniard chained four consecutive defeats for the first time since the end of 2009. Eager to end the losing streak, Rafa disposed of Casper Ruud in the last match of the season at the ATP Finals in Turin, hoping to start anew in 2023 at the United Cup.