The King of Clay doesn't need to own the biggest house on the block or the most Grand Slam titles in tennis history.
Forget about keeping up with the Joneses and worry about what quenches your soul says Rafael Nadal after winning his 12th Roland Garros title on Sunday in Paris.
It’s not a quest for titles or a march towards history for the King of Clay. He may be motivated by the achievements of his rivals but at the end of the day he’s happy carving his own path on the tennis court.
“Of course we push each other,” Nadal said of 20-time major champion Roger Federer, before going on to explain exactly what it is that has made him tick all these years. “I never tried to think about, ‘Well, I gonna catch Roger or not?’ Being honest, I am not very worried about this stuff, no?”
Rafa wins his 12th @rolandgarros and Twitter blows up…
— TennisNow (@Tennis_Now) June 9, 2019
The Grand Slam arms race may be important to the punditry, but Nadal isn’t overly concerned by the raw numbers.
“You can't be frustrated all the time because the neighbor has a bigger house than you or a bigger TV or better garden,” he said. “That's not the way that I see the life, you know.And I just try to do my way. I feel very lucky about all the things that are happening to me. And if, at the end of my career, I am able to win a couple of more Grand Slams and be closer to Roger, will be unbelievable. If not, for me, still unbelievable, no?”
It doesn’t mean Nadal wouldn’t like to catch Federer and maybe even pass him in major titles someday. It just means that the King of Clay doesn’t get caught up in the externals.
“Well, it's a motivation, but it's not my obsession,” he told reporters. “If you ask me whether I would like it, of course. If that's a goal in my career, no. It's not what makes me get up every morning or go and train and play. It's not the way in which I view the sport, and it's not the way in which I consider my sports career.
“But I don't think my future will be worth any more if I equal Federer's record or if I do something like Djokovic or whatever. I consider that I'm going much further than I dreamt about in my career.”
He added, in closing: “I just value my playing and having this beautiful career more than anything.”