20-time Major winner Rafael Nadal recently spoke with an English daily on a wide range of topics. The 34-year-old first touched upon how his approach towards tennis and records was different from that of his arch-rival Novak Djokovic, before talking about how his biggest rivals have helped shape his career.
Rafael Nadal claimed that while he wants to win more Slams before retiring, he is not as dead set about wanting to usurp every record as Novak Djokovic is.
"Of course, I want to win more Slams, yes," Nadal said. "No doubt about that. But I never get – I mean, Novak is more obsessed about this, more focussed...not in a negative way. No, he's more focused on just these things and it means a lot to him all of this stuff. Like he's always saying and talking about these records and well done for him… but it's not my approach to my tennis career."
According to Rafael Nadal, he has a 'different kind of ambition' as compared to Novak Djokovic. Nadal claimed he has been satisfied with his career for years now, but that he keeps going because he still enjoys being on the tour.
"I have a healthy ambition," Rafael Nadal said. "Of course I am ambitious; if not, I would never be in the position I am today. But I have probably a different kind of ambition than him, for example. I just keep going, keep doing what I'm doing and just try to put myself in a position to keep enjoying the tour and, of course, try to achieve as much as possible."
"I am super satisfied about the career I'm having," he added. "Not today; I was super satisfied years ago already, but I am not making a step back in motivation because of that. I don’t get frustrated if I am losing one tournament, I am trying to approach the thing in a different way."
Rafael Nadal was further asked whether he dwells on any kind of numbers while he is on tour. The 20-time Major winner replied that playing and traveling regularly gave him little time to revel in his success, before claiming that practicing every day with the right attitude was the only thing he was focused on.
"Hopefully at the end of my career, when I stop doing what I am doing, I’m going to have the time to analyse more these things," Rafael Nadal said. "Today, I’m just focused to try and keep going. We have a lot of tournaments throughout the year. Tennis goes quick, it’s not plenty of time to enjoy success or to think about, 'I have this. I have won this'."
"Okay, I know I had a lot of success in this part of the season but in the past," he added. "This year is another year. The only thing that I’m doing is practise every day with the right attitude and try to put myself in a position again to be very competitive in the beginning."
"I always had great opponents in front, since the beginning of my career" - Rafael Nadal on 'Big 3' rivalry
Rafael Nadal also gave his thoughts on how Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have motivated him throughout his illustrious career. Nadal was effusive in his praise for his rivals, with whom he has shared 58 of the last 70 Major events.
"I always had great opponents in front, since the beginning of my career I had Roger there and then Novak came a little bit later," Nadal said. "I always had good examples of amazing players in front of me, competing for the same things so that helps to give you a clear way."
Nadal did add, however, that while the 'Big 3' rivalry helped him understand the limits to which he had to push himself, his own inner motivation was always pretty strong too.
"But in some ways, I want to think – and I do believe it's really like this – that my personal motivation is much higher than the motivation to have other players in front," Rafael Nadal said. "Not because I need to be better because I have Roger or Novak in front of me. I want to think that I want to do it because that's the way I understand the sport. And of course, having these kinds of players in front of you helps to give you a clear way about the things you need to do better."