Rafael Nadal has claimed he feels “alive again” after reaching the Australian Open final. And the Spanish superstar insisted he feels under less pressure going for a male record 21st Grand Slam singles title because he feared his career was over last year.
Nadal saw off Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3 today under the roof of the Rod Laver Arena to reach Sunday’s showpiece. He cried with emotion after the 2009 champion reached the final here for a sixth time.
Victory for Nadal in Sunday’s final will see him break the record of 20 Slam titles he currently shares with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
But the 35-year-old, who missed Wimbledon and the Olympics last year because of a chronic foot injury, admitted he did not even know if he would be able to play again.
And now he has insisted he has already won Down Under by being back on the court.
“I feel lucky just to be playing tennis and playing with a great attitude, positive feelings, just a little bit alive again in terms of competitive spirit,” he told Eurosport.
“I missed that feeling. I know the pressure is not much for me now. I never believed that I would have the chance to be where I am today so I am just enjoying every single moment.”
Later in his press conference, Nadal added: “For me it’s something completely unexpected, so I am super happy. Of course everybody knows me, and I am always going to try my best. Of course my goal now is to win.
“But it’s a present, just be here and play tennis. I am now taking things a little bit in a different way.
“Of course always with the competitive spirit that I have, because I can’t go against that. It’s my personal DNA. But in some way, just be what I am and be able to have the chance to compete at this level, it’s a positive energy for me to keep going, because at the end of the day, and being very honest, for me is much more important to have the chance to play tennis than win the 21.
“Because that’s what makes me more happy in terms of general life, to be able to do the thing that I like to do more than achieving another Grand Slam.
“At the end of the day, life, it’s about happiness and what makes me happy. It’s about just having the chance to do what I like to do.”
Eurosport pundit John McEnroe added: “I don’t know what it means for the history of tennis, these guys are just incredible what they keep doing.
“It started out as a complete and utter train wreck with Djokovic when he was down there and all we were talking about was him and how he was the guy who was going to go and make history and break the record but they forgot to mention that Rafael Nadal was there who hasn’t played in six months.
“Who is the last guy who didn’t play for six months and then went on to win the Australian Open? His name was Roger Federer.
“All of a sudden things have fallen into place for Rafa who has to be the humblest, classiest champion of almost any athlete I’ve ever seen in any sport. It’s well-deserved for a guy like Rafa Nadal, you can see how much it meant to him to get to the finals again.”
Published at Fri, 28 Jan 2022 08:32:45 +0000