Australian Open: Nadal's happiness not dependent on breaking grand slam record

By Sports Desk January 25, 2022

Rafael Nadal's happiness does not depend on finishing his career with more grand slam titles than rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Nadal edged out Denis Shapovalov in a five-set epic on Tuesday to reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

The Spaniard has only won the season's opening grand slam once, back in 2009. However, the field has opened up for him this year, with reigning champion Djokovic unable to compete and 40-year-old Federer taking his time to return from knee surgery.

Nadal, Djokovic and Federer are all tied on 20 grand slams each, meaning the next of the trio to win a major will set a new record.

While Nadal is hoping to go all the way in Melbourne, he insisted his career satisfaction does not depend on being the record holder.

"The fact that we are equal at 20, the only thing that says is that we share an amazing [time] of the history of our sport, and for me it's a real honour to be part of it, without a doubt," he said.

"I don't hope for anything. I just keep going. I am just enjoying playing tennis, as I said hundreds of times. Honestly, and from the bottom of my heart, I really don't [have certain expectations].

"Of course, I want to keep winning, but more than because I want to achieve or I want to have more than the others, because I love what I am doing. I want to keep doing this as long as possible.

 

"The last six months there have been a lot of doubts if I would be able to keep going. But now I feel good. We are in a position that I won a tournament, I'm in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, so that's amazing for me.

"In terms of what can happen in the future, honestly I really don't care that much. I don't believe that my happiness, my future happiness depends on if I achieve one more grand slam than the others or if the others achieve more grand slams than me.

"No, I am super satisfied and feel very lucky for all the things that happen to me. I have a way to approach life. You can't be always frustrated if the neighbour has a bigger house than you or a better phone or a better thing, no? I'm not going to be frustrated if Novak or Roger finishes their careers with more grand slams than me.

"Let's enjoy the situation, every one of us, we did very special things in our sport. Let's enjoy that."

Nadal lost to Djokovic in the Melbourne final in 2019. He has reached the showpiece match five times in total.

The world number five had not played a competitive game since August last year before he returned to action earlier this month, winning the Melbourne Summer Set.

Nadal had dropped just one set across the opening four rounds prior to his clash with Shapovalov, which finished 6-3 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3.

"Yeah, I have been playing well," Nadal added. "To play at this level against a player like [Shapovalov], that he's one of the best players of the world, and see myself again competitive against these kinds of players, for me it's everything.

"I'm just enjoying every single moment, try my best playing with the highest positive attitude possible and with the right spirit."

Related items

  • Tsitsipas reaches first grass-court final, Fritz and Cressy set up all-American Eastbourne showdown Tsitsipas reaches first grass-court final, Fritz and Cressy set up all-American Eastbourne showdown

    Roberto Bautista Agut stands in the way of Stefanos Tsitsipas and his first grass-court title.

    Making his debut at the Mallorca Championships, Tsitsipas sealed his maiden appearance in a grass-court final by cruising past Benjamin Bonzi 6-4 6-4 on Friday.

    The world number six has now reached four finals this season, having lost two of the previous three – winning on clay at the Monte Carlo Masters.

    It was the second meeting between the pair in as many weeks, with the Greek having also downed Bonzi at the Halle Open.

    And Tsitsipas now has a chance to warm up for Wimbledon in winning fashion.

    "It was a good match. I am very happy today," Tsitsipas said in his on-court interview. "I have played a final a week before a grand slam before. It was the year I made the final at Roland Garros, in Lyon.

    "It worked out pretty well to have that final and consistency of matches. It is different this time. We are talking about a different surface, so we will see."

    Tsitsipas has now claimed a tour-leading 39 wins this season, but standing between the 23-year-old and silverware is Spaniard Bautista Agut, who reached a 20th career final by beating Antoine Bellier 7-6 (7-5) 6-2.

    Like Tsitsipas, Bautista Agut is aiming for a second title of the season.

    At the Eastbourne International, two Americans will vie for the title after Indian Wells Masters champion Taylor Fritz saw off a tough challenge from Alex de Minaur while Maxime Cressy defeated home favourite Jack Draper 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (2-7) 6-3.

    Fritz, who triumphed at Eastbourne in 2019 – similarly against an American, in Sam Querrey – but has found his best form hard to come by of late, also needed three sets to get the better of De Minaur, eventually succeeding 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-3.

    "It's amazing," Fritz said. "I was having a bit of a rough start coming back from injury to the grass season, and then I came here and the first day I was here I just immediately felt like I was playing good tennis again.

    "I just have a lot of confidence being here, obviously great memories, so I'm really excited to come back out and play for the title again."

  • Ostapenko set for Eastbourne title defence as Halep's suffers neck injury ahead of Wimbledon Ostapenko set for Eastbourne title defence as Halep's suffers neck injury ahead of Wimbledon

    Reigning Eastbourne International champion Jelena Ostapenko will go up against Petra Kvitova in 2022 Saturday's final.

    Ostapenko won as a wildcard in 2021, and the world number 14 confirmed her place in this year's showdown by overcoming Camila Giorgi on Friday.

    She is the first female player to reach back-to-back finals in Eastbourne since Caroline Wozniacki in 2017 and 2018.

    The Latvian, who is also going to compete for the doubles title, prevailed 6-2 6-2 and will now go up against Kvitova. The pair have faced off eight times previously, with each player winning four matches.

    It is Kvitova's first appearance in a final in 2022, with the former world number two – and two-time Wimbledon champion – having ended Beatriz Haddad Maia's winning streak.

    Haddad Maia won in Birmingham last week and Nottingham the week before, but her run came to an end at 12 matches, with Kvitova triumphing 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

    "For me, a final after almost a year [without one] will be great, so I’m glad already," said Kvitova, who was a runner-up at Eastbourne in 2011 and last reached a final on grass in Birmingham four years ago.

    "Jelena loves to play here, obviously, we saw it, she has a really great game for grass."

    Meanwhile, at the Bad Homburg Open, 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu reached her sixth career final courtesy of a walkover against Simona Halep.

    The Romanian withdrew from the semi-final clash with a neck injury, which will worry the 2019 Wimbledon champion ahead of the season's third grand slam at the All England Club.

    "I am sorry that I had to withdraw today before my semi-final match," Halep said in a statement.

    "But unfortunately I woke up this morning with a blocked neck and this is not allowing me to perform to the best of my ability."

    Andreescu will face Caroline Garcia, who saved a match point before going on to beat fellow Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 7-6 (11-9) 3-6 7-5 to reach an 11th tour-level showpiece.

  • 'I can't say I disagree' - Shriver on Wimbledon's move to ban Russian and Belarusian players 'I can't say I disagree' - Shriver on Wimbledon's move to ban Russian and Belarusian players

    Former Wimbledon doubles champion Pam Shriver has said she does not disagree with the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this year's tournament.

    Shriver landed 21 women's doubles grand slam titles, of which 20 came in partnership with Martina Navratilova, and 112 career doubles titles in all, and she also claimed 21 singles tournament wins.

    Russian and Belarusian players have been banned from this year's Wimbledon due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    Speaking to Stats Perform, Shriver – who won five women's doubles championships with Navratilova at Wimbledon – said while she did not like that it was a decision that needed to be made, she did not object to it.

    "War is messy, right? War is tragic. It's been a horror show for Ukrainian people," said American Shriver. "And there's a lot of Ukrainian professional tennis players that are just living through hell.

    "Obviously, the decision has been made to try and have the tightest of sanctions. So when you think about the industry of pro tennis, if we're going to have sanctions as well, then Wimbledon [should too], and I understand the UK government has put some pressure throughout the country to not do business with Russians during this time.

    "I wish they had never had to make the decision, but I think under the circumstances, I can't say I disagree [with it]."

    Shriver also said the decision from the ATP, WTA and ITF to remove ranking points from this year's tournament was "really unfortunate".

    However, she does not believe it will make Wimbledon seem like an exhibition, saying: "It's not an exhibition because of the prize money and because of the prestige of winning a Wimbledon title.

    "Those are actually the two main things. I think the points are third, and so you're missing the third most important aspect, but the prize money is huge, and [the tournament] will be just as prestigious as ever."

    As a result of the ban on Russian players, men's world number one Daniil Medvedev will not be in attendance at SW19, but Shriver does not think it will diminish the competition.

    "You know, maybe some years it would [be a problem that Medvedev is not there] but... you're going to have the number one seed being [Novak] Djokovic and number two seed being [Rafael] Nadal," she said.

    "When you have the player who has more majors than anybody else ever in the men's game at 22, Rafa, and you have Novak trying to win his fourth straight Wimbledon and his seventh overall and trying to chase Rafa's 22, I think that's going to hide the fact we don't have a number one.

    "It's going to be an unusual year to not have rankings one and two [Medvedev and the injured Alexander Zverev], but I feel like the names on the men's side, [Carlos] Alcaraz, [Matteo] Berrettini, [Hubert] Hurkacz got to the semis last year, the two Canadian guys [Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov].

    "I feel like there's still such great depth and with Rafa and Novak leading the way, it's fine."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.