Rafael Nadal: addicted to competition


Rafael Nadal: addicted to competition

Buenos Aires, February 11, 2015.- 

"The worst is not able to compete. No matter if it's the back, the appendix or whatever. The worst thing is not being able to get out onto the court to face a rival", says Rafael Nadal, describing what he suffered most last season. In his statement Nadal makes it clear that he has an addiction. Something you suffer from if you can't do it. Also something you fight against whenever you can not do it. His need to compete is what really motivates the current number three in the world. After 2014, a year marked by injuries, the Spaniard is back and the Argentina Open, which takes place from February 21 to March 1 at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club, is one of his stops. One of the places where he can do what he likes, being able to fight on a tennis court.

The ordeal with injuries began in the final of the 2014 Australian Open, in which he ended up falling to Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka, after suffering a "blockage" in the lumbar area during warm up. Later that year it would be an injury to the right wrist that made it impossible for him to participate in the two North American Masters 1,000 Tournaments during the summer [Toronto and Cincinnati] and the US Open, where he would have been defending the title. But it did not end there, appendicitis forced him to undergo surgery and withdraw from the Masters Cup. Injury, a fate in the successful career of Nadal.

However, it appears that pain makes him hungry. Suffering could be considered a food for the 14-time Grand Slam champion. In 2013, after being absent from the circuit for more than seven months (for a partial rupture of the patella tendon and fat pad impingement of left knee), he returned and won 10 titles, including Roland Garros and the US Open. The motivation is his addiction. A dependency to be on the court and enjoying it. "Food is a pasta dish, a salad, and above all a good fish. The pain is something with which almost all players play. The motivation is the competition itself, trying to win, savoring the moment of victory and in the end even more. I think that while I know that I can win, that I am able to do so, I will continue having that motivation,"says the 28-year-Nadal who finds his stimulus in the search for the triumph.

"Sometimes he gives the impression that he is not aware of all the history that's behind him," commented David Vega, a young Spanish tennis player with whom Rafa trained a few months ago. The incredulity of the European boy lies in humility and simplicity just like his idol, Nadal. The man from Mallorca is clear about his achievements, but his concern is improving the factors that can help prolong his successes. "I am aware of what I have earned because never had I been able to imagine or even dream that I would win so many titles, but it's true that I do not dwell on them or recount what I did or think about what I will do before the end of my career. Now my only concern is prepare myself as I have always done to be in the best conditions to compete," says the nine-time Roland Garros champion.

Luck often plays a role in the relentless pursuit. For Nadal, luck is something that exists but which, as with everything in life, must also be fought for. "Luck plays a role without a doubt but it's not just a given, it must be sought," says the former number one in the world with clarity and simplicity.

In each of the answers provided by Nadal, the will to compete emerges. According to the Spanish daily "As", the Mallorcan will travel about 115,000 kilometers this season in order to participate in the tournaments that make up his loaded calendar. The adrenaline and excitement that comes with competition is bigger than any flight to a remote event. That enthusiasm with which Nadal lives is his best medicine, it allows him to overcome the recurrent headaches facing his punished body. "Traveling is part of our work, what we do for the competition. For so many years. That is perhaps what you have to weigh up, what you have done and continue to do for so many years. For now I deal with it well, especially taking into account that last year I couldn't do all those kilometers that I would have liked because I was injured at the end of the season".

His last and only ATP Buenos Aires participation took place in 2005. Nadal was very different then. He was 18 years old, wore pantaloons and sported large muscles. Nor had any of his nine Roland Garros titles or the 14 Grand Slams figured in. Ten years later things have changed. A decade has gone by since that strange quarter-final against Gastón Gaudio - by then 8th in the rankings - when El Gato beat Nadal 0-6/6-0/6-1. Nadal puts things in perspective when he recalls that match. "It was a long time ago and I remember the match against Gaudio perfectly. It was one of those strange results and in the end he won. Of course I have changed a lot because it is how life works, one grows, becomes more mature, changes physically and mentally... ", says Rafa who will soon return to slide over the Buenos Aires clay.

At 28 years old and a bank account that would allow him to buy house wherever he wanted, Rafael Nadal decided to continue living at home with his parents. In Manacor the Spaniard enjoys his short breaks from the intense ATP circuit with his family. "It gives me peace. I am not too at home here because of my travels, so it is not the same as it is for someone who spends all of their time there. I am fine for now."

Translations by Chris Boardman for


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