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Rafael Nadal doesn't remember "ever playing without pain", claims he has a "great relationship with Roger & Novak"

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal
Modified 02 Mar 2021

Rafael Nadal recently spoke at length on several topics during an interview with Veja. The Spaniard touched upon the ‘GOAT’ debate and his rivalry with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, while also lamenting his unfortunate and never-ending tryst with injuries.

Rafael Nadal is currently struggling with a back injury, which forced him to withdraw from the ongoing Rotterdam Open. It is unclear when the he will make his return to the tour, but many are speculating that the 34-year-old will return to action at the Miami Masters later this month.

During the conversation, Rafael Nadal highlighted how physical issues have always been a part of his career. The Spaniard then listed the changes that he has had to undergo in his life to be able to compete with the pain.

“Honestly, I don’t remember ever playing without pain,” Nadal said. “In the past few years, I have been experiencing pain more often and you need to learn to live with it, as long as it doesn’t stop you from playing. I had to change a lot in my game and in my training. I changed routines, trained less hours than I would like, improved my serve and my positioning. Everything evolves, one way or the other."

Rafael Nadal returned to his diplomatic self when asked to comment on claims of him being the 'GOAT'. Nadal steered clear of labeling himself - or one of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic - as the best player of all time.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

The Mallorcan believes that the best time to measure a player's greatness is after that player has retired.

"I don’t think it is in any way up to me to make a comment like that (on him being the GOAT)," Rafael Nadal continued. "People like to speculate, which is why they make these comparisons. When my career is over, we will have enough time to remember my achievements and understand the place I occupy in the history of tennis."

Rafael Nadal asserted that he shares a ‘great relationship’ with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

"I have a great relationship with Roger and Novak," the Spaniard went on. "We are rivals only during matches. The fight takes place only on the tennis court."

I am used to life in Mallorca where I can be an ordinary person: Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal at the 2021 Australian Open
Rafael Nadal at the 2021 Australian Open

Rafael Nadal’s humility is amongst his most well-known traits. Many consider Nadal to be one of the most humble sportspersons of all time.

During his interview, the 34-year-old touched upon the topic of fame, revealing that it does not affect his personality. Nadal called himself a ‘reserved person’ who primarily enjoys spending time with his loved ones.

"I never said specifically that I don’t like being famous," Nadal said. "What I usually say is that fame does not affect me or my behavior. It is true that I am a reserved person. I am used to a life in Mallorca where I can be an ordinary person, just a man with his family and friends."

Given that the interview was with a Brazilian daily, the name of Gustavo Kuerten found its way into the conversation too. Kuerten is regarded as Brazil’s finest tennis player of all time, with three French Open titles to his name.

Gustavo Kuerten
Gustavo Kuerten

Rafael Nadal spoke in glowing terms about Kuerten's aura and stature, while also revealing that his coach Carlos Moya was once good friends with the Brazilian.

"I know Guga well and everything he represents for tennis, not only in Brazil or Latin America but all over the world," Nadal said. "My coach and friend Carlos Moya was also very close to him. Guga is a gigantic name for our sport. Personally I don’t have many idols in tennis but he certainly represents a lot for tennis fans and for Brazilians."
Published 02 Mar 2021, 21:25 IST
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