Rafael Nadal on keeping the flame burning, enjoying daily life, picking up a PlayStation controller again

Rafael Nadal with French Open trophy

In a frank interview following his latest French Open success, Rafael Nadal opened up about how his stable personality helps him to continue playing at the highest level, what’s left to win and how he handled the bubble at Roland Garros.

Nadal continued his love affair at the French Open on Sunday as he brushed aside world No 1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets to win a 13th title in Paris. Victory also saw him draw level with Roger Federer on 20 Grand Slam titles.

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In a candid Q&A with ATPTour.com, Nadal was asked he keeps the flame burning at 34 and replied: “Like everyone, I’ve had some good times and some bad, times of enthusiasm and times of disillusion, above all when there were more physical issues than normal. I’ve been lucky to have a fantastic environment around me, a family and a team that have been with me throughout my career.

“I have a stable personality, I’m not overexcited when things go well, and nor am I excessively negative when they go wrong. That helps me to experience things with peace of mind in order to continue. In the end, it all comes down to something simpler: the passion you are born with.”

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With so many records and 20 Grand Slams on his CV, what’s left to win?

“To keep enjoying daily life. In the end, I’m a lucky person. Life has smiled upon me so far,” he replied. “I don’t know what is left for me to win, but the excitement is in continuing to move forward.

“If you don’t have that enthusiasm it’s time to dedicate yourself to something else. As long as I have it, I have to keep working hard every day to keep giving myself chances of competing at the highest level.”

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a big toll on everyone, including Nadal with the Spaniard admitting the past few months have been “difficult”.

“On a social level, we’ve been living with continuous problems,” he said. “On a personal level, it’s a reality that after the lockdown I went through a bad time, my body did not respond in the best way possible. I had a lot of days where I could only train very little, with unpleasant feelings in my body. All of that, together with training without clear goals, makes the problem worse.”

At Roland Garros there were strict health and safety measures in place with players living in a bubble. So how did the world No 2 and his coaches Carlos Moya and Rafael Maymo overcome the boredom?

“Personally, I find it harder than they do. I’m a person who prefers being with people more,” he said.

“Carlos has always had the ability to get by on his own, as has Rafa. For me it’s a little harder. The days have seemed longer to me than to them, but we’ve rediscovered things that we had forgotten.

“It’d been three years since I’d picked up a PlayStation controller, and we played it a lot with each other. We’ve also been reading all the latest news and watching the odd series to kill time.”

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