In a candid one-on-one with former F1 champion Nico Rosberg, Rafael Nadal spoke about how to handle moments of self-doubt and other issues related to mental strength along with how he's different from rival Novak Djokovic.
Nadal said that he thinks the Serbian is a "machine" when it comes to mental toughness. But even the world no. 1 must have his moments of self-doubt, Nadal said. The Spaniard pointed out that the two of them are different and there's no one route to success. According to Nadal, everyone needs to find their own way.
"He's maybe more a machine in terms of mentality, But I'm sure he has his doubts too. We have different characters. Both things are good, and you need to find your way. That's my point of view. There's no one way to have success, or to accomplish your dreams. There are different ways and you need to find your personal one."
While everyone has their own share of problems, Nadal thinks that athletes are more prone to self-doubt because they push themselves to the limit physically and mentally.
"I think everybody has some problems, and especially I think sports people who bring the mental and the physical part at the limit."
In his conversation with Rosberg, Nadal stated that perspectives change as one gets older. While there have been some setbacks with respect to his injury, the Spaniard said he aims to be back at the start of next season.
"Yeah, when you get a little bit older, the feelings are a little bit different in all terms. But at the same time, even today I had a tough period of time in terms of my foot injury, so I need to come back hopefully by the beginning of next year."
The road to recovery is always plagued with self-doubt, Nadal said. However, familiarity with the process helps. The 35-year-old said that he knows what he has to do to make a comeback. Even with all the doubt, Nadal said that he's confident of his chances if he's able to play without any pain.
"Of course, I'm going to have some doubts, but I know the process - I have been there plenty of times. It's true that every time when you get older, it gets more difficult, but I'm very excited with the process, with the things that I have to do to try to be back. So even with the doubts, I am confident that if I am able to play without much pain, I will have my chances."
Rafael Nadal says he doesn't consider himself "too good to not have any doubts"
Nadal stated that a healthy combination of doubt and confidence is the best way to get work done.
"Yeah, because doubts let you work the proper way, I think. Because when you have doubts, you always work with the goal that you never think it's enough. 'It can be better, it can be better...' but at the same time, if you have the confidence that works in the proper way, you will be able to be back. Then, you are back or not... you never know."
Nadal argued that a complete lack of self-doubt can make someone arrogant. The former world no. 1 said that he has never considered himself "too good to not have doubts".
"I think doubts are good. Well..if it's not too much. If you don't have doubts in this life, it's because you are too arrogant I think. Because, in this life, most of the things are not 100% clear, so you need to have doubts. You need to ask yourself what's the right thing to do. I have been humble enough during all my career to not consider myself too good to not have doubts."
Arrogance and excessive self-confidence can help people to a certain extent, said Nadal. But he also argued that it doesn't work in the long-run and may end up affecting the athlete negatively.
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"That's why it's been hard work during my entire tennis career. I think being, sometimes, arrogant and very self-confident can help you for a while, but for the longer term, if that, in some way doesn't give you the chance to work the proper way, with the goal to improve, it can be a negative thing."