Rafael Nadal won his 12th Barcelona title on Sunday, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in a hard-fought final. The win came 16 years after Nadal lifted his first trophy in the Spanish city, reinforcing just how incredible his longevity at the top of men's tennis has been.
In the aftermath of his latest triumph at the 500-level event, Rafael Nadal recalled how he was told by many doctors that he would have a short tennis career due to his playing style. The Spaniard expressed pride in the fact that he has defied their expectations, and continued to be a dominant force even in his mid-30s.
"For many years I heard that I would have a short career because of my style of play," Nadal said. "At the end of the day, I'm still here, fighting for the biggest titles. I love tennis. I'm proud of it."
Roland Garros is always marked in my calendar and I'll do my best to get there in the best possible way: Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal also talked in detail about physical conditioning, and how it can be difficult for players to plan things before the start of a tournament. The 34-year-old disclosed how he had been in very good shape before entering the 2021 Monte Carlo Masters, but then ran into an in-form Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals.
"In sport, it's difficult to plan things, as it's quite unpredictable," Nadal said. "We try to be as ready as possible in every tournament. In fact, I arrived at Monte Carlo in very good shape, both in confidence and game, but then you have a bad match against a great player."
Rafael Nadal lost that match in three sets, playing some of his worst tennis in recent times. But the 34-year-old was gradually able to rediscover his groove during his week in Barcelona.
Rafael Nadal capped his campaign off by demolishing Pablo Carreno Busta in the semis and outlasting Stefanos Tsitsipas in the summit clash. The latter win was particularly impressive given how Tsitsipas had come in on the back of a nine-match winning streak, after triumphing in Monte Carlo the week before.
In that context, Nadal insisted that there's no way to predict what will happen on a given day. The 34-year-old claimed that while Roland Garros is his number one priority right now, he can't be sure that he will be in top form heading into the claycourt Slam.
"So in sport you have to be ready to accept anything that could happen," Nadal said. "Obviously, Roland Garros is always marked in my calendar and I'll do my best to get there in the best possible way. But there is still a long way till then."