‘An important part of my life is leaving too,’ says emotional Rafael Nadal.
Trying to leave tennis is no easy task for Rafael Nadal. He is a man in the middle, not a star who can always win, but one of the most tenacious competitors in the game.
It wasn’t always that way.
Having first won the world’s number one ranking in 2005, when he was just 21 years old, his career took off, which culminated in the 2008 US Open. In the process he secured the top prize almost immediately, with two different finals victories.
Fast forward six years, and Nadal is currently ranked at a career high of world number five, in the early autumn, on the eve of the Miami Open. His last five grand slam tournaments have been won, including the two majors, French Open and Wimbledon.
It’s not only the number of tournament titles that have come and gone, it’s also the mental strength he has to have to deal with losses that could wreck his dream of winning a fourth French Open title.
Nadal is currently facing Nadal’s nemesis, Tomas Berdych, in the quarter-finals in the 2017 French Open, and will also be going up against him in the last eight of the Miami Open.
‘Yes, you feel it. There are ups and downs, but it’s always there,’ Nadal tells Sportsmail, with emotion in his voice.
‘Yes, yes, you feel it. (But) I’m not a psychologist, I am a tennis player. I have to do it on my own. I believe that if I could do it on my own, I would have gone a few years earlier.
‘When I was 16 or 17, I was thinking I was going to do something crazy at the end of 2008: I was thinking that I would have made the ATP Finals.
‘But I didn’t, and now I’m here.’
Nadal doesn’t shy away from his own feelings about losing to Berdych on the French Open court.
Nadal says that if he was playing against a certain player, he’d be frustrated ‘because it’s frustrating and disappointing’.
And, he explains, he knows it�