Rafael Nadal won a lot during his career, and yet he struggles to realize what he just did: his 11th Monte Carlo title, beating Kei Nishikori 6-3 6-2 in the final. It's also his 31th Masters 1000 and 76th career title. Still the same enjoyment, same passion for the game.
How do you keep this going? 'Well, I always repeat the same. These kind of things are not going to happen forever, so just try to enjoy and to play with the full passion and with the full energy and concentration, full love for the sport until I can', Nadal said in press conference.
'I know the day to say good-bye is closer than 10 years ago. Is something that I am not worried about, but is a real thing. (It) is a special day for me.' In today's match Nadal was down a break, 1-2 with Nishikori serving during the third set.
Explaining his low start, he said: 'The beginning of the match, first three games, I was playing well, but I was sometimes repeating too many times against his forehand and backhand. I was not changing directions. Then I opened the court much more after the 2-1, changing the directions of the ball more often.
The match changed a lot. Then probably Kei became little bit more tired. That encouraged me little bit more to keep doing that, to keep moving him around. I played a solid match. Of course, the best match of the week was against Dominic (Thiem) in quarterfinals.
But today I improved from yesterday, in my opinion. I played little better than yesterday. Of course, I can't say much wrong. Winning an important title, playing against difficult opponents without losing a set, it's a great week.' Speaking about the choice of getting back on the practice court yesterday after his win over Grigor Dimitrov, Nadal said: 'I was not looking for a big change.
I was just looking to relax me little bit, to hit some balls hard, and to move the arm without nerves. That's all. I was not looking for an improvement. I practiced 15 minutes, 10 minutes after the match. I didn't practice for 45 minutes.
I just went on court to hit some balls with no nerves, without worrying if the ball goes two meters out or two meters in. Just to hit strong and to move the arm the right way.' Before the ceremony they showed some pictures of your 10 past victories.
What goes through your mind at that time? What kind of emotion does that bring to you? 'I'm old (smiling). But, of course, very special. 11 titles here, it's unbelievable, so... It's something difficult to imagine.
I always say the same: If I did, somebody else can do it. But is very difficult. I really don't know how these things can happen because is lot of years without making mistakes and without being unlucky on this week. I have been unlucky other weeks, but not this week.' Do you think that only the best Novak Djokovic or best Stan Wawrinka can challenge you on clay? 'I don't know.
I don't think that much. I just think about my opponent every day on the other part of the net. Of course, I know there are more dangerous rivals than others. The ones you mentioned, one won 12 Grand Slams, the other one won three.
Of course, these two players can beat me. Of course, there is other ones that can beat me, too. But you mentioned two great players. Of course, Nishikori is another great player. Dimitrov yesterday, No. 5 of the world. I don't know, (Alexander) Zverev No.
4. Of course, when you play against the best players of the world, you can lose. At the end of the day you can lose every day. But, of course, the best players have better chances.' ALSO READ: Ivan Ljubicic explains why Roger Federer will skip French Open