Chris Evert marvels at the drive of ‘warrior’ Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal US Open

Former world no 1 says that Rafael Nadal’s close to 18-year run in the ATP top ten is evidence of a special talent with incredible drive.

Nadal’s time in the top ten will finally come to an end after the Indian Wells Open.

Nadal will not be at the event and when he drops the 600 points he earned in a run to the final in Indian Wells will also lose his spot in the top ten.

Evert marvelled at the motivation required to achieve that feat.

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“I think motivation is big: to have that motivation year in and year out, to be the best you can be, win as many tournaments as you can, to have that motivation and not any dips in that, in your desire to compete,” Evert told Eurosport.

“18 years in the top 10! To have that motivation and to never wane in your desire and dedication to the sport, to be in the top 10 when there is so much depth, I think that just says a lot about what is happening in his head.

“It also reflects in his game because it is about consistency, being solid, not missing a ball, and being in every point. He is in every point and he has been in the top 10 every year. That is just tunnel vision.

“His injuries have not been too catastrophic, where he is out for a year, like a lot of these other players, but the thing for Rafa looking ahead is really preserving his body.

“He has been a warrior out there and there has been a lot of wear and tear because he gives 100% in training and he gives 100% in his matches.

“He is a very physical player, and again, his style is to just out-last, out-rally his opponent. So he has spent a lot of hours hitting balls and you have to wonder how the body is holding up as well as it is.

“I think now that he is a father, he has a different perspective and he has something to go to after tennis.

“His body has so much wear and tear that now a simple injury is not going to be simple anymore and they are going to come at a faster rate.

“I think you can safely say in the next few years, he will probably be winding down. I don’t want to retire anybody, but in the next few years, I think just because of the injuries and having a family, it would not surprise me if he started to wind down.

“The injuries have come in the last few years at a higher rate. So that is sort of a tell-tale sign that his body may be more fragile, maybe breaking down a little bit.

“It is totally understandable with his style of play, and I don’t mean that in any kind of negative way, but the truth is in the pudding. I mean, he has been injured.

“So again, I don’t think he needs to guard against the mental or emotional part of his game. I think it is more just keeping his body as healthy as he can be.

“The French Open again, clay, longer rallies, longer matches, a target on his back. That is going to be a real challenge for him.”

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