Rafael Nadal admits it will be difficult to copy his great rival Roger Federer and continue to play competitive tennis once he reaches 40, but also concedes “you never know what can happen”.
Federer retired at the age of 41 in September after failing to recover from a long-standing knee injury while Nadal is still competing at the highest level having turned 36 in June.
A few years ago not too many – including Nadal himself – would have predicted that the Spaniard would still be playing in 2022 as his troublesome foot has forced him to spend lengthy periods on the sidelines. Yet he is still going strong.
When asked if he could compete once he reaches his 40s, the 22-time Grand Slam winner replied: “I don’t know I can’t predict the future.
“It looks difficult, honestly, but at the same time, when I was 28 or 29, for me was super difficult to imagine myself playing at the age of 36, and here we are – in a high position on the ranking and being competitive.
“You never know what can happen. It always depends on different facts; some of them you are able to control, and others you don’t have the chance to control.
“So, let’s say I am super happy to be where I am at the age of 36 and a half. Let’s see, I just want to keep going and enjoy the fact that I am playing every year, which, for me, is a present.”
Nadal, who started the 2022 season on a high as he won the Australian Open, will continue his tennis adventure in Turin as he goes in search of the one title missing from his CV.
However, he will start his campaign with a cloud hanging over his match fitness as he has only played one singles match since the US Open – a second-round defeat against Tommy Paul at the Paris Masters a fortnight ago.
The world No 2 – who could regain top spot in the ATP Rankings by winning the title – explained that he was under the weather in Paris.
“In Paris I hadn’t raced for a long time and I had a little stomach problem,” he revealed. “I was vomiting, at the end of the third set I felt sick to my stomach. I didn’t say anything at the time because it didn’t make sense. I was sick for a day and then I was able to train normally.”
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