Rafael Nadal is ready to attempt a return to the top of the game, having had repeated injury and illness interruptions during the previous two seasons.
“I’m not frustrated by injuries,” he told El Espanol in a wide-ranging Spanish interview. “Being realistic, I have had injuries and perhaps my career would have been better if I had not.
“But at the same time I tell you that I absolutely am not in a position to complain about anything.”
Asked if he could keep playing for long if he is not winning Grand Slams, Nadal said, “It depends on whether if one is happy or not. Whether you have enthusiasm and want to do it or not.”
He would not talk of aiming at Federer’s 17 Grand Slams, saying that career records include more than just Slam titles. “Federer’s record is fantastic, but I’m happy with my 14,” he said. “That does not mean I’m going to stop competing to finish with more.”
Victory is not everything for Nadal. “I do not like to win sufficiently enough to cheat,” he said. “And yes, I like to win, but I love to compete.”
The Spaniard recently said he is not considering retiring, but he knows that it will be difficult to re-establish the dominance he once had, having first reached No. 1 in 2008 and mostly recently returned there starting in 2013. “It is normal. When you win less, your rivals think more that they can beat you,” he said. “That is the logical nature of everyone’s career; of Sampras, Federer, Djokovic and Murray, of all.
“No one has retired with a sense of invincibility.
“Not having a sense of invincibility does not mean that you cannot compete for big things, win big things. That is my goal.”
When it comes to off-court plans, he spoke of having a family, saying “If there is no setback, I would like to have children and have several, it depends on the length of my career. I do not want to be very old and have my children.”
Nadal also touched on the recent U.S. elections, and the newly-elected president. “It’s true that the way he talks, I do not like it because it’s not a style I appreciate, not the way I express myself. I’m not an arrogant type,” Nadal said. “Since he was chosen, his speech has been much more moderate and perhaps more correct, but during the campaign it was not. But to be sincere, I did not love the other option, either.”
On Spanish politics, the 31-year-old also said he preferred a less confrontational approach. “I like to follow politics, but I reserve my opinion,” he said. “For being who I am, I do not think it is appropriate to talk about those kind of things. I can talk about concepts, not people.
“It can’t be that there are very rich people and very poor people. The logical thing is that there is stability and equilibrium.”
But his attention is currently on the court, where he has spent his first week in Melbourne working with new coach Carlos Moya alongside the rest of his team, getting ready for the Australian Open. The two also spent two weeks training in the off-season.
While Nadal was traditionally reluctant to expand his
tight-knit team, familiarity helped: Moya is also from Mallorca and the pair has a long history together. “While Moya has never been in my team, he knows me well, he appreciates me and I appreciate him,” Nadal said, describing the former top-ranked player as “a person who knows my way of playing, knows the circuit well, and above all with the convenience of living 30 minutes from my house.”
Returning from wrist problems, the former Aussie Open champion is currently No. 9 in the rankings.