Refugee in Manacor for eight months, when he played his last match – in Australia, against Mackenzie McDonald – and suffered a serious injury to his iliopsoas that later forced him to undergo surgery in June, Rafael Nadal has dropped these days in Madrid, after passing through Pedreña, Cantabria, the land of Seve. In both scenarios, the tennis player has shared some holes with his friend Pau Gasol. “Luckily, for a few weeks now I’ve been able to play golf, and at least it’s the only thing I can compete in… It distracts me and it’s necessary,” consoles the Mallorcan, who in the absence of rackets kills the bug with the club. and that, he says in an interview with Movistar+, he is evolving positively from his latest physical mishap. He tells Nadal that things are going well, but he doesn’t even throw the bells in the air. As always, his body will decide. He has barely seen tennis – “the final of the US Open and Wimbledon” – and he has not missed the adrenaline of the competition because, simply, he has not been able to.
“Once I didn’t make it to Roland Garros, I needed to make a point to make sure I was going to recover well. So I made the decision to have surgery. The first months have been complicated, but then I have been able to disconnect and be with the family. I have been able to not pay much attention to my cell phone or TV; following the news, but that’s it. I needed to disconnect a little from everything. I turn the page quickly. I watch the US Open and my stomach doesn’t hurt. I’m not one of those who thinks: ‘I should be there.’ I am at peace, and I live things naturally,” the Spaniard introduces in the meeting with journalist Juanma Castaño, broadcast this Monday on the platform. “It seems that the operation went well,” says the 36-year-old athlete. “And now I live with pain, but controlled. It doesn’t make my life bitter. “My character only changes when I have more pain than necessary.”
Four months ago, Nadal offered a press conference at his academy, where he ended the season and also the year, at the same time slipping that his intention is for the next year to be the last of his sporting career. Today, everything is a mystery to him, waiting for time to put things in his place and tell him where he is to take one direction or another. “I would like to play again and be competitive,” he transmits. “But the hope is not to come back and win Roland Garros or Australia, make no mistake; I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I’m not delusional. I am very aware of the difficulties I face, which are several. One is insurmountable, which is age, and the other is the problems that usually prevent me from training 100%. The union of the two things makes aspiring to some things seem very difficult or almost impossible, but that takes away my hope of playing again,” notes Nadal, who played his last match on January 18, on the asphalt of Melbourne. Park.
Nadal and Florentino Pérez greet each other in the Bernabéu box.Juan Carlos Hidalgo (EFE)
The athlete peppers his speech with questions – “what if I really don’t recover from my hip? Am I going to go out and compete knowing that I have no option for anything? What if suddenly I’m perfect? What if I suddenly feel good and want to continue? Why do I have to say something now that I don’t know? ” – And he refuses to establish concrete deadlines or specific roadmaps. He says that in November he will see a little more light and that then he will know better where the shots can go, and that for the moment he exercises 40 minutes, three days a week, plus the hours he spends between the gym and the stretcher for the recovery. The Mallorcan insists that in sport, as in life, things are very changeable and that what is a today, tomorrow is b, or d. “I am not negative, but I am realistic and cautious because reality has led me to that,” he clarifies. “And the Games (Paris 2024) would be a nice finishing touch if one is there for it to be a nice finishing touch.” “I don’t know where I’m going to play my last official game. When I know, I’ll say it. What if suddenly my body recovers and I feel energetic to continue? I work, and then my body and my head will tell me what I can or cannot do.”
Djokovic, “ambition to the maximum”
Nadal, he explains, no longer has many friends left on the circuit because he is from a different generation. So he has not maintained excessive contact with his teammates, although “from time to time” he has exchanged impressions by phone with Roger Federer. Precisely, the Swiss hung up his racket a year ago due to a knee injury that prevented him from continuing the three-way fight he had with the Spaniard and Novak Djokovic. The latter (36 years old and 24 majors) has just won again in New York, continues to collect milestones and has two major advantages over the Balearic Islands, who denies that the record of records is making him lose sleep. “If I would have liked to be the tennis player with the most Grand Slams in history? Without a doubt, this is what sport is about, being the best possible”, he answers himself. “What has been an obsession for me? No. What frustrates me? Neither. One cannot always be frustrated by one thing or the other. Life is what it is and everyone does what they can,” he continues, detailing then that Djokovic himself, record in hand and with all the numbers to win the game, could end up being frustrated.
“I think that in that sense Novak has experienced it in a more intense way than I have experienced it. For him, I think it would have been a bigger frustration not to get it… And maybe that’s why he got it. I think he has had the ability to take ambition to the maximum. I have been an ambitious person, but with a healthy ambition that has allowed me to see things with perspective and without being frustrated. It is my way of living it and feeling it,” he says; “They are different cultures. I have lived it differently and I am happy with it. What would change things in my life? Many. “I have made wrong decisions.” For example, has Nadal pushed too hard? “I have played very little for many years, what happens people are left with memories of the beginning. If you look at the numbers, for years I have been one of those who have played the fewest games on the circuit. But that’s what sport is also about (five years out in total as a result of injuries). He has had a physique or a style that has allowed him to play more than me. I have done what I could, I cannot blame myself for anything. When I have made a mistake, I have done so thinking that at that moment I was doing what was best for my career.”
Nadal does not fear tomorrow because for years he has been laying the foundations for his future beyond competition, and in the present he enjoys spending time with his son Rafael, even though carrying the baby hurts his back. He sometimes goes out for a walk with the stroller, “like everyone else,” and the current exercise routine “bores” him because he must control each of the maneuvers. “It’s not that the ball is slow, but I can’t move with the intensity I’m used to. I have to be holding back all the time,” he points out. He also watches football, his Real Madrid style; In fact, the night before he witnessed the victory against Real Sociedad in the Bernabéu box. He would be delighted for the white club to sign the Frenchman Kylian Mbappé – “who doesn’t like him?” – And, asked if he would like to one day preside over the entity, he answers: “I don’t know. Yes I’d like to? I think so, but first, we have the best president possible and then, what he may think today may not be what he will think tomorrow. Life takes many turns, one does not know if one is qualified to do what type of things. I know more or less my limitations, and I don’t know if I would be capable.”
“ALCARAZ? “I WOULD TELL HIM TO KEEP IMPROVING”
A. C. | Madrid
Nadal also referred in the interview given to Movistar+ to Carlos Alcaraz, the undisputed protagonist of this 2023 together with Djokovic. The 20-year-old from Murcia has won six titles this year and has led the ranking in various phases, rising as the tennis player with the brightest future.
“I don’t think there is any haste with him, it is logical. There is a new young man who arrives, who is number one and who has won two majors. For me he is not exaggerated. He has a brutal projection. He has youth, power and ambition. He has the projection of someone very great, but later, in the career of each athlete many things can happen that perhaps do not depend on oneself,” he warns.
Although he does not like to advise too much, he recommends that Murcians adopt references. “What I have learned the most from is examples, not words. The wind carries them away very quickly. I would tell him to improve, to continue improving. Having the hope of continuing to improve is what keeps you motivated. Going to train for the sake of training bores me deeply; I wake up with the idea of improving, and I always go to the court with that hope.”
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