“Would Like to Retire as the Best in History”: Rafael Nadal Reveals How He Balances Ambition With Inner Calm

Published 06/02/2021, 6:09 AM EDT
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 1, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts during his first round match against Australia’s Alexei Popyrin REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes


Superstar Rafael Nadal has said that he wouldn’t have won as many titles as he has without being ambitious but that he doesn’t obsess about his career goals to the extent of losing sleep.

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In an interview with Spanish publication El Pais, the Spaniard, who turns 35 this month, said he has never shied away from putting forward his goal of finishing with the most number of Grand Slam titles and as the “best in history”

Rafael Nadal says he’s not obsessed with his career goals

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Nadal added that while he wants to train like a beast and push himself to attain all his career goals, he wouldn’t be too “obsessed” with it.

“I have never hidden the fact that I would like to retire as the best in history and as the player with the most Grand Slams. But I’m not going to lose sleep over it. It’s not that I don’t want to put pressure on myself, I say what I feel, I would love to end my career this way. Of course, it’s a goal for me, but I’m not obsessed with it,” Nadal said.

He added that his “primary goal” is to retire with zero regrets and be happy with wherever he finishes.

The current World No.3 said it was ambition that got him 20 career Grand Slam titles, 13 of them at Roland-Garros, more than any player past or present.

He said he still has some goals to chase but won’t beat himself in frustration if he falls short of them in the end.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 1, 2021, Spain’s Rafael Nadal during his first round match against Australia’s Alexei Popyrin REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

The Spaniard added that while it is important for an athlete to be ambitious, too much of it can not only affect one’s health and sanity but also take the enjoyment out of the sport.

“My principal goal is to be happy with what I do”: Nadal

“My principal goal is to be happy with what I do. I have not taken 13 titles in Paris or won 20 Grand Slam titles without being ambitious. Ambition is good, but you have to be healthy and not excessive. In every case, I set out the objectives. If I meet them, great, but if not, I am not going to get frustrated or stop enjoying being happy,” Nadal said.

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He added that he has found his inner peace after being in the competitive grind for years and won’t trade his sanity for ambition.

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“I have a very calm life now, calmer even than in earlier years,” he said.

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Nadal came through a first-round clash against Australian Alexei Popyrin in straight sets on Tuesday and will play veteran Frenchman Richard Gasquet for a place in the third round at Roland-Garros on Thursday.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

970 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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