Refugee in Manacor for eight months, when he played his last match – in Australia, against Mackenzie McDonald – and suffered a serious injury to the iliac psoas that 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 a few holes with his friend Pau Gasol. "Luckily, I've been able to play golf for a few weeks now, and at least it's the only thing I can compete in... It distracts me and it is necessary", consoles the Mallorcan, who in the absence of rackets kills the bug with the stick and who, he tells in an interview granted to Movistar +, evolves positively from his last physical mishap. Nadal says that things are going well, but much less throws the bells on the fly. As always, your body will decide. He has barely seen tennis – "the final of the US Open and Wimbledon" – and 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 and apart 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 could not be very aware of the mobile or the TV; Following the news, but that's it. I needed to disconnect a little bit from everything. I turn the page quickly. I watch the US Open and my belly doesn't hurt. I'm not one to think, 'I should be there.' I am at peace, and I live things naturally, "introduces the Balearic in the meeting with journalist Juanma Castaño, issued on Monday by the platform. "Apparently, the operation has gone well," says the 36-year-old. "And now I live in pain, but controlled. Life doesn't make me bitter. My character only changes when I have more pain than necessary."
The Davis Cup, or a dead end
Four months ago, Nadal gave a press conference at his academy, where he ended the season and also the year, slipping at the same time that his intention is that the next course is the last of his sports career. Today, everything is unknown to him, waiting for time to put things in place and tell him where he is to take one direction or another. "I would like to play again and be competitive," he says. "But the illusion is not to come back and win Roland Garros or Australia, that people are not mistaken; I'm not saying it's impossible, but I'm not deluded. I am well aware of the difficulties I face, which are several. One is insurmountable, which is age, and the other is the problems that usually do not let me train one hundred percent. The union of the two things makes aspiring to some things seem very difficult or almost impossible, but that takes away the illusion of playing again, "says Nadal, who played his last match on January 18, on the asphalt of Melbourne Park.
Nadal and Florentino Pérez greet each other in the Bernabeu 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 chance at anything? What if I'm suddenly perfect? What if I suddenly feel good and feel like continuing? Why do I have to say something now that I don't know?" – and rejects setting specific deadlines or roadmaps. He says that in November he will see some more light and that then he will know better where the shots can go, and that at the moment he exercises 40 minutes, three days a week, plus the hours he invests between the gym and the stretcher for recovery. The Mallorcan insists that in sport, as in life, things are very changeable and that what today is a, tomorrow is b, c or d. "I am not negative, but I am realistic and cautious because reality has led me to that," he clarifies. "And the [Paris 2024] Games would be a nice brooch if you're there to be a nice brooch." "I don't know where I'm going to play my last official match. When I know, I will say it. What if suddenly my body recovers and I feel energized to continue? I'm working, and then my body and my head will tell me what I can or can't do."
Djokovic, "ambition to the maximum"
Nadal, he explains, no longer has too many friends left on the circuit because he is from another 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 the racket a year ago as a result of a knee injury that prevented him from continuing the three-way fight he had with the Spaniard and Novak Djokovic. The latter (36 years and 24 majors) has just been crowned again in New York, continues to collect milestones and leads in two majors to the Balearic, who denies that the record of the records makes him lose sleep. "If I had liked to be the tennis player with the most Grand Slams in history? Without any doubt, this is what sport is all about, being the best it can be," he replies to himself. "What has been an obsession for me? What frustrates me? Neither. One cannot always be frustrated by one thing or the other. Life is as 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 get to live frustrated.
"I think in that sense Novak has lived it in a more intense way than I have. For him, I think it would have been a bigger frustration not to get it... And maybe that's why he has succeeded. I think he has had the ability to take the 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's my way of living and feeling it," he says; "They are different cultures. I've lived it differently and I'm happy with it. What would change things in my life? Many. I've made wrong decisions." For example, has Nadal pushed too much? "I have been playing very little for many years, what happens people keep the memories of the beginning. If you go to the numbers, for years I have been one of the least played games on the circuit. But that's [five years off in total as a result of injuries] is also about sport. 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 reproach myself for anything. When I've been wrong, I've done it thinking that at the time I was doing the best for my career."
"I live day by day with the illusion of giving me the opportunity to have the option to decide.''#NADALenMovistarPlus pic.twitter.com/wYBbVqL8Qm
— Tennis on Movistar Plus+ (@MovistarTenis) September 18, 2023
Nadal does not fear tomorrow because for years he has been laying the foundations of his future beyond competition, and at present he enjoys the hours with his son Rafael, although carrying the baby harms his back. Sometimes he goes for a walk with the cart, "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 says. He also watches football, his Real Madrid; in fact, the night before he witnessed the triumph against Real Sociedad in the Bernabéu box. He would be delighted if the Whites signed Frenchman Kylian Mbappé – "who doesn't like it?" – and, asked if he would like to preside over the entity one day, he answers: "I don't know. If I would like to? I think so, but first, we have the best possible president and then what he can think today may not be what he thinks tomorrow. Life takes many turns, one does not know if one is qualified to do according to what kind of things. I know more or less my limitations, and I don't know if I would be able to."
"ALCARAZ? I WOULD TELL HIM TO KEEP IMPROVING."
A. C. | Madrid
Nadal also referred in the interview granted to Movistar + to Carlos Alcaraz, the undisputed protagonist of this 2023 along with Djokovic. The 20-year-old Murcian 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's any rush with him, it's logical. There's a new kid coming in, who is number one and who has won two majors. For me it is not exaggerated. It has a brutal projection. He has the youth, the power and the ambition. It has the projection of someone very great, but then, in the career of each athlete many things can happen that maybe do not depend on oneself, "he warns.
Although he does not like to advise too much, he recommends the Murcian to adopt references. "What I have learned most from is examples, not words. They are carried away very quickly by the wind. I would tell him to get better, keep improving. Having the illusion 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 track with that enthusiasm."
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