PARIS — Rafael Nadal’s standing for Wimbledon is doubtful due to a continual drawback along with his left foot — as is his future in tennis. What’s safe, it doesn’t matter what occurs now, is his legacy.
Nadal obtained by the French Open, he defined after a dominating 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 victory over Casper Ruud in Sunday’s last earned a 14th championship at Roland Garros and twenty second Grand Slam title general, because of the assistance of a collection of numbing injections in his foot.
That, he says, was a one-time deal.
“I don’t want to put myself in that position again,” Nadal mentioned after turning into, at age 36, the oldest champion within the historical past of a clay-court event that was first held in 1925. “Can happen once. But no, it’s not a philosophy of life that I want to follow.”
And he allowed somewhat perception into what does make him tick.
It’s not, he mentioned, as he’s mentioned earlier than, an all-consuming want to complete with extra main trophies than the opposite members of the so-called Big Three of males’s tennis, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. (Nadal at the moment stands two forward of his rivals, who each are at 20.)
“It’s not about being the best of the history. It’s not about the records. It’s about: I like what I do. I like to play tennis. And I like the competition,” Nadal mentioned.
“What drives me to keep going is the passion for the game, to live moments that stay inside me forever,” he added, “and play in front of the best crowds in the world and the best stadiums.”
So whereas he desires to have the ability to preserve going, and would recognize the possibility to play on the All England Club, the place the grass-court Slam he has received twice begins three weeks from Monday, he’ll solely accomplish that if his physique permits.
Nadal, who introduced a health care provider with him to Paris, goes to spend the following week attempting new remedies, hoping to discover a method to ease the ache in his foot.
If that doesn’t work, he might want to ponder having surgical procedure.
“Of course, my tennis career has been a priority during all of my life, but never has been a priority over my happiness (in) life. So things are going to keep going that way,” he mentioned. “If I am still able to be happy playing tennis with the things that I have, I’m going to keep going. If I am not able, I’m going to do other stuff.”
Either manner, Nadal’s place within the historical past of tennis — and, certainly, the historical past of sports activities — is solidified.
Because of the entire methods he has lorded over the French Open and purple clay, sure. And, positive, due to the profession Grand Slam he owns and, for now a minimum of, the lead within the males’s main trophy depend. Don’t overlook the Olympic medals and the time spent at No. 1 within the rankings, both.
But it’s not simply the entire numbers. There’s additionally this: Nadal by no means appears to take a degree off, by no means appears to let an on-court state of affairs daunt him, by no means provides in or provides up.
“He stepped up, and he showed that when he needs to, he plays great,” mentioned Ruud, who gave the impression to be each bit as overwhelmed by the state of affairs and setting as by his opponent.
“He’s a player I have watched on TV for the last 16, 17 years. So to be there myself and face him, it’s a bit of a challenge, as well, but a very enjoyable one,” Ruud mentioned after his debut in a Grand Slam last at age 23. “Yeah, of course, I wish I could make the match closer and all these things, but at the end of the day, I can hopefully one day tell my grandkids that I played Rafa on Chatrier in the final, and they will probably say, ‘Wow, did you?’”
Whatever would possibly come subsequent for Nadal, he wants to determine what’s finest for him, his foot, his happiness.
If he decides there’s no repair for the ache that wouldn’t come at too nice a price, he’ll transfer on. His imprint on the game will stay.