Rafael Nadal: 'I have to make smart schedule and play well in every tournament'

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Rafael Nadal: 'I have to make smart schedule and play well in every tournament'

World no. 2 Rafael Nadal will wrap up the season with only seven tournaments on his tally. The 34-year-old had to pick them wisely to stay in form and make sure to bring his 100% every time he would step on the court, avoiding injuries and trying to extend his career.

Following the ATP Cup and the Australian Open - Rafa suffered losses against Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem to lose the ATP throne - the Spaniardcompeted in exho matches in South Africa and Kuwait, taking a couple of weeks off and returning in Acapulco at the end of February.

Rafa stormed over the rest of the field to secure the 85th ATP title, flying to Indian Wells but having to go home, with the coronavirus sidelining the tennis action for over five months. Nadal didn't pick up a racquet in March or April, spending time with his family and friends and trying to stay safe on his beautiful island of Mallorca.

Rafa wasn't ready to travel to New York and compete at the Cincinnati Masters and the US Open, practicing on clay and making a returning Rome. Diego Schwartzman beat him in the quarters, sending the 12-time Roland Garros champion to Paris with only three matches in his legs in the previous seven months!

Bouncing back, Rafa passed all the obstacles to claim the 13th Roland Garros trophy and the 20th Major overall, matching Roger Federer and saving the entire season, regardless of the future results.

Rafael Nadal has played seven tournaments in 2020.

With no physical issues, Rafa decided to compete at the Paris Masters and the ATP Finals, seeking two titles he is missing in his collection. In the French capital, the Spaniard lost to Alexander Zverev in the semis, hitting the practice court again and opening the ATP Finals campaign with a solid victory over Andrey Rublev.

In the second match, Rafa experienced a tight 7-6, 7-6 loss to Dominic Thiem in what has been one of the encounters of the season. "I prefer to finish as world no. 2 than world no. 3, but I have said many times that I have no intentions of following the ranking and play more tournaments to achieve a better position.

It goes against my body and my future abilities to chase big titles and those high ranking positions. I know I have to play well in almost every tournament I enter; if I achieve that, my ranking position will remain at the top.

If I finish in the top-3, that's always good. That's my approach and the way I see my calendar today. I have to be smart and make wise decisions about my future goals and plans; my team and I know very well the most important things for my career." Rafael Nadal said.