Rafael Nadal: ‘Many times I only think about going for…’

Rafael Nadal has been a player to beat this season. The Spaniard achieved 30 victories in 33 matches, and 14 of them were in Grand Slam. Rafa won the Australian Open and Roland Garros for the first time in the same season, leading the ATP Race by a comfortable margin. Nobody could have predicted it a year ago, when Rafa struggled with a foot injury and skipped almost the entire second part of the season. Nadal felt severe pain in his left foot in the Roland Garros semi-final against Novak Djokovic, had nothing left in his tank in the fourth set and had a hard time walking in the days that followed. Nadal decided to skip Wimbledon and the Olympics to rest his foot, and reappeared in Washington in August, taking part in the ATP 500 event for the first time. Rafa decided to play in Washington and test his foot for the first time since June. Nadal debuted in the second round against Jack Sock and forced his foot in a three-hour victory. The Spaniard prevailed in the decisive tie break for his first win in over a month and a half. Nadal took the court against Lloyd Harris in the third round and suffered a 6-4 1-6 6-4 loss in two hours and ten minutes. The Spaniard did not play badly, but it was not enough to take him home after losing ground in key moments. Harris hit 16 aces and saved four of six break chances. Nadal played against three break chances and experienced a loose service game in sets one and three to end his streak. Rafa had 26 winners and 11 unforced errors while Lloyd had 38 winners and 21 errors, playing aggressive tennis and doing everything right when it mattered most. After that, Nadal withdrew from Toronto and ended his season, no sense further stressing his foot. Nadal underwent minor foot surgery in Barcelona in September, and returned to action at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi in December.

Rafa won the Australian Open and the French Open

Rafael Nadal expressed that the key reason behind those comebacks and victories in close matches is belief. He keeps on trying, even when the possibility of winning is the slightest. “As much as people think that I always have confidence, it’s not like that, when things go wrong, I often see it very black. But this is the essence of sport, that although the possibilities are minimal and it seems impossible, you keep fighting, you try for your personal satisfaction of having given you the option of having an opportunity,” Nadal said. He further highlighted his approach during crucial phases in the biggest of matches, explaining that he prefers to take things ‘one point at a time.’ “When things go wrong, I analyze and I look for solutions. Many times I only think about going for the next point, then for another and sometimes little by little things are equal. If things go wrong, it is normal for them to end badly, but in a year someone falls on your side,” the 14-time French Open champion expressed.