Rafael Nadal’s longevity has left fans and pundits speechless. Hardly anyone expected the Spaniard to have such a long career at the highest level, despite the fact that injuries have forced him to miss several important appointments.
Suffice it to say that the 36-year-old man from Manacor is the player from the big three who has missed the most Grand Slam tournaments. The former world number 1, who had only played seven official tournaments in 2021, redeemed himself this year by winning the Australian Open and Roland Garros against all odds.
His career came to an abrupt halt in the second half of the season, also due to the abdominal tear he suffered at Wimbledon. In addition to not being able to play the semifinals of the Championship, the Iberian player appeared at the US Open in precarious conditions and did not go beyond the round of 16.
These days Rafa is preparing for the new season, where he will continue his duel from a distance with Novak Djokovic. In a recent interview for the ITF website, former Spanish challenger Roberto Menéndez recalled his first meeting with Nadal.
“Rafael Nadal and I met for the first time in the ‘Future Spain F20’ tournament. I lost 6-4 in the third after a good battle,” Menendez said. “We gave a very funny interview on Televisión Española, because the media wanted to talk to two potential world number 1s.
When Rafa was only 16 years old, he told me that he didn’t care about being in the top 10. He wanted to reach the top of the ATP rankings. He was very confident in his future and knew that he had the capacity to aspire to certain goals, “adds Roberto.
Rafael Nadal was asked at the post-match press conference if setbacks like this would make him consider retiring. “So you are very, very interested in my retirement (smiling).”
Nadal won two Grand Slam titles in 2022
Rafael Nadal lauded the level of competition but pointed out flaws in the format of the inaugural United Cup.
“I really believe that in a group of three, the loser of the first tie needs to play with the team that didn’t play yet, because that makes the competition much more interesting,” Nadal said. “Because, for example yesterday, even if we lost yesterday, with the format how it is, the last mixed doubles match probably I will be playing, because maybe that match can make a difference even losing the tie because we have another day,” he explained.