Paris—Rafael Nadal insists that he has no desire to become locked into an arms race with Roger Federer to surpass his great rival’s 20 Grand Slam titles.
Nadal clinched an 11th French Open with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory against Dominic Thiem on Sunday to take his majors total to 17.
That’s three behind Federer who is more than four years older.
However, the 32-year-old Nadal said such targets do not concern him, believing his caution is well-placed after an injury-hit career which has seen him sit out nine Grand Slam tournaments.
“I have never been crazy about this kind of stuff,” said Nadal. “You can’t always be frustrated if somebody has more money than you, a bigger house than you, if somebody has more Grand Slams than you. You can’t live with this feeling. Of course I would love to have 20 like Roger in the future or even more but it’s not something that is on my mind.”
Even this year, injury has continued to hound Nadal with a hip problem forcing him to quit his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic.
He missed the North America hardcourt season and only returned in time for the European claycourt season.
On Sunday, he even halted play in the third set due to cramping in his finger that affected his blood circulation.
“It was scary,” he admitted.
Nadal plans to return to Paris in 2019 and try and clinch a 12th title at Roland Garros.
But he remains philosophical about the rest of his career which has so far yielded 17 majors, 79 titles in total as well as more than $100 million in prize money.
“You can’t fight against age and you can’t fight against the watch. The watch keeps going always. So that’s it.
“If you tell me seven, eight years ago that I will be here at 32 years old having this trophy with me again, I will tell you that is something almost impossible, but here we are.
“So I am not much worried about the future. Tennis is a very important part of my life, without a doubt, but is not everything.”
Next on the campaign trail for Nadal is Wimbledon where he was a two-time champion in 2008 and 2010.
However, his recent record at the All England Club has been dispiriting.
Last year, he lost 15-13 in the fifth set of his last-16 tie against Gilles Muller.
Since his last title in London eight years ago, he has also suffered a first-round exit as well as two defeats in the second round.
“I would love to be playing in as many places as possible, but you understand I need to check how I feel in the next couple of days,” said Nadal as he pondered his preparation for Wimbledon which gets underway in three weeks’ time.
He is currently entered to play the Queen’s Club tournament next week.
“It is a drastic change from clay to grass. And I did it in the past when I was much younger, quicker because I played back to back.
“But it’s time to check how I feel in the next couple of days.”
Victory on Sunday meant that Nadal became just the fourth man of the modern era to win three or more Grand Slam titles after turning 30, joining Federer, Rod Laver, and Ken Rosewall.
Australia’s Rosewall was in the crowd on Sunday to see the final, 50 years after he won the title in Paris.
“I’m just glad I’m not playing today,” said Rosewall in a nod to the raw power of Nadal.
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