Rafael Nadal isn’t too bothered by the constant questions surrounding his inevitable retirement, as he considers it normal for fans to ponder the day when their favorite player will finally hang up his boots. While fans look to top athletes as inspiration, the 22-time Grand Slam champion treats these questions almost as a badge of honor.
The world No. 4 booked his place in the third round of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships with a gutsy 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win over Ricardas Berankis, extending his Grand Slam unbeaten streak this season at 16 -0. Next, he will face Lorenzo Sonego on Saturday, their first meeting on the ATP Tour.
Speaking in his press conference afterwards, the Mallorcan shed some light on his thoughts on retirement, saying it’s no longer a topic that keeps him up at night.
The former world number 1 has drawn parallels with his own life, revealing how as a fan he has missed watching Tiger Woods in action recently. Stating that it was as much a change in his life as in the life of Woods, the 36-year-old remarked that it was an inevitable part of the life cycle of any sportsman, including Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
“It is normal for people to talk about the retirement of great sportsmen, since they have been in the elite for a long time, especially in the very popular sports which are part of people’s lives. They are becoming a fundamental part of the daily life of a person, since they are a source of inspiration,” said Nadal.
“I love watching Tiger Woods. Now I don’t see him play as often. In a way, it’s also a change in my life. I imagine people will think the same of me, or they will think the same as fans of Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic when they’re not playing,” he added.
Stating that he was never afraid of the day when he had to announce his retirement, the Spaniard noted that he had enough life outside of tennis to remain happy even after hanging up his racquet.
“My philosophy is that a few weeks ago I was close to retirement. Now I don’t feel like that anymore. I was never afraid that this day would come,” Nadal said. “I’m happy to have lived a very happy life outside of tennis, even more so that tennis has been a very important part of my life for the past 30 years. I’ve been happy outside of that, no doubt. .”
As unavoidable as he is, the world No. 4 hasn’t been afraid to make this particular change when the time comes. Although Nadal admitted it would take time for him to adapt, the 22-time Grand Slam champion was nothing but excited about the myriad options available to him in the future.
“There are a lot of things I love to do beyond tennis, that doesn’t worry me, but it’s clear that when that day comes, I [have to] change,” Nadal said. “In this life, every change requires time to adapt.”
‘I don’t do too many things, I’m just here and I stay at home, I don’t go out at all’ – Rafael Nadal on potential COVID-19 outbreak at Wimbledon
During the press conference, Rafael Nadal also addressed a pressing issue that has been on the minds of most tennis fans in recent days: the potential outbreak of COVID-19 at Wimbledon.
Three players have already withdrawn from the tournament (Matteo Berrettini, Marin Cilic and Roberto Bautista Agut) after contracting the virus, leading many to wonder if this will affect the event more significantly.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion acknowledged it was an issue that needed to be taken seriously, adding that he was taking all necessary precautions to ensure his safety.
“A good friend of mine, like Roberto Bautista, had to retire today with another case. When this kind of thing happens, it’s because surely there are enough cases,” Nadal said. . “I don’t do too many things, I’m just here and I stay at home, I don’t go out at all.”
The 36-year-old acknowledged that some relaxation measures were needed because people deserved to live a free and normal life. At the same time, Nadal hoped that people could protect themselves and try to get through the ordeal as best they could.
“It’s part of the very demanding world we’ve found ourselves in for the last couple of years. I’m not saying don’t do business as usual, because at some point you have to reopen everything, you have to be free and live a normal life, and it looks like COVID is now less dangerous,” Nadal said. “At the same time, when you open everything, these kinds of things can happen. I can’t add more.”