The Spaniard says he talked with his team about the possibility of his career ending. By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday January 28, 2022
During a dark period last year, when Rafael Nadal’s left foot was not improving at the desired rate, the Spaniard sat down with his team and had some deep discussions. One of the things that was discussed? Maybe it’s time to say good-bye to tennis.
“I went through a lot of challenging moments, a lot of days of hard work without seeing a light there,” Nadal said on Friday after taking out Matteo Berrettini in four sets to reach his 29th Grand Slam final. “But still working and still receiving plenty of support from my team and from my family, too, without a doubt.
“Yeah, I mean, a lot of conversations with the team, with the family about what can happen or what gonna happen if the things continue like this, thinking that maybe is a chance to say good-bye.”
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2022
That explains the heavy emotions that Nadal was feeling on Friday night after his triumph, which also represented his 500th hard court win and his 75th Australian Open victory. He was tearing up as he celebrated his victory and prepared for his post-match on-court interview, something that we don’t typically see from Nadal until after a tournament is over.
Nadal said the emotions are still raw, his struggles with the injury were not long ago.
“That was not a lot of months ago,” he said. “To be able to be where I am today, I don't know, I really can't explain in words how important is for me in terms of energy, in terms of personal satisfaction, in terms of being very thankful for all the support that I received from the fans and especially from the people really close to me.”
“For a long time I wasn't able to practice,” he said. “Sometimes I went on court and I was able to practice 20 minutes, sometimes 45, sometimes zero, sometimes two hours, but have been very, very rough in terms of imagine myself playing at the best-of-five at this moment.”
Nadal will bid for a record 21st major title on Sunday in Melbourne against either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Daniil Medvedev. Standing at the precipice of a historic achievement, the Spaniard says that, for him at least, it’s not about standing alone ahead of his Big Three rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic – it’s more about living the dream and still playing competitive tennis at 35.
“For me, I just feel happy to be part of this amazing era of tennis, sharing all these things with another two players,” Nadal said. “That's it. In some ways it doesn't matter if somebody achieve one more or one less, no? I think we did, everyone, we did amazing things and things that will be very difficult to equal each of us. So, yeah, I don't think much about this, all this stuff.”