Rafael Nadal vows he will continue to play tennis as long as he is ‘healthy and able to compete’

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Rafael Nadal in the sunshine

Rafael Nadal insists he has “no idea” when he will hang up his tennis racket, saying “as long as I am healthy and able to compete, I intend to enjoy my life in tennis”.

Having turned pro at the age of 15 in 2001, the Spaniard is still going strong two decades later as he is No 2 in the ATP Rankings and remains one of the players to beat at tournaments.

Nadal, though, will turn 35 in June this year and the question of retirement often pops up.

Asked by Brazilian magazine Veja if he has any idea when he will hang up his racket, he replied: “I do not have [an idea]. As long as I am healthy and able to compete, I intend to enjoy my life in tennis and always give 100%. That’s how I see the sport.”

Staying at the top of the sport for so long means over the years he has had to make changes to his game, but it has certainly paid off.

“Obviously, I had to change, adapt and improve my skills,” he said. “In tennis, there is always room for improvement. Over the years, more wisdom and experience come, but at the same time, the physical side is different, which means that we have to rethink the intensity of training and matches.

“I’ve seen it happen over and over again in tennis. Ultimately, the important thing is to stay healthy for as long as possible.”

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With 20 Grand Slam titles, including 13 at Roland Garros, as well as numerous other records on his CV, many believe Nadal will go down as the greatest tennis player while others feel the honour will go to either Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic.

“I don’t think it is in any way up to me to make a comment like that,” the tennis great said. “People like to speculate, which is why they make these comparisons.

“When my career is over, we will have enough time to remember my achievements and understand the place I occupy in the history of tennis. I never thought I would win as many titles as I did, so I am very grateful and happy for everything I have achieved in my career. I don’t need to get into the discussion about who is the best.”

As for how he hopes to be remembered when he eventually decides to call it quit, Nadal said: “The most important thing is to be remembered as a good person.

“In the end, it is the most relevant. The victories, the titles and the memorable moments are important, but everything passes. The person you were is the one who remains forever.”

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