By Agence France-Presse
Rafael Nadal said passion and positivity had helped him reach an unprecedented third decade ranked world number one, after defying the ravages of injury and the critics who said his all-action game was too tough on his body.
Despite a steady stream of foot, knee, back, arm, hand and wrist injury setbacks, the 33-year-old has returned time and again to become the only player to top the rankings in three different decades.
“I can’t say I have been lucky with injuries, because I have not,” the Spaniard said on Saturday, when asked about his longevity in the game.
“But there is no secret, no? There is only about passion, about love for the game, and about being able to stay positive in the tough moments.”
Nadal’s physical, uncompromising approach is often contrasted with his great rival Roger Federer, who appears more effortless on court and — after far fewer injuries — is still going strong at 38.
But the fighting qualities that have taken Nadal to 19 Grand Slam titles on court have often been evident off it, as he was repeatedly able to recover from injury and return to the top.
“It’s true that I went through some tough situations during all my career. But I was able to always, with probably the positive attitude and with the right people around — they were the key — I was able to find a way to keep going, no?” he said.
“It’s difficult for me to imagine because for my style of game, as a lot of people said, my career should be little bit shorter. But here we are. Happy for that.
“Even for me is a big surprise to be where I am at my age.”