In the midst of a 36-year-old banner season in a career already hailed as legendary, Rafael Nadal says the key to his golden success is no secret: hard work pays off.
“Without dedication, nothing is possible, especially at this point in my career,” said Nadal, who added to his main tally earlier this year with wins in both the Australian and French openings – a total of 22 Grand Slam titles.
“It’s about discipline every day on the training ground – and in the gym – and I think I’ve managed it well to stay dedicated and professional and still do things professionally,” the Spaniard adds. Each time the challenge is greater [and] I hope I’m ready for that.”
Nadal is once again preparing to fit into Team Europe, but this time as part of an unprecedented lineup with rivals-turned-teammates Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
Among them, they’ve held 66 major titles, a dynasty that has held out since Federer claimed the major singles title at Wimbledon in 2003, aged 21.
“It’s going to be unique – it never happened, and it probably never will,” he says. “It’s a special week in a special atmosphere. How can we work together as a team? We need to play in a way that will win us over.”
Nadal, who is never happy, explains that while history may be on Team Europe’s side, the challenge across the net will be strong from the younger Team World squad.
“We have been a part of the history of our sport for the past 20 years, no doubt,” Nadal says of himself, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. “It is true that we are also older. The numbers that Team Europe have are amazing, but we still need to compete and play. On the other side of the net are great players trying to win their first Laver Cup.”
The venue is familiar to Team Europe, as the ATP Finals have been held at London’s O2 Arena for the past decade. Nadal is the two-time qualifier in this event; Federer, Djokovic and Murray won the title.
“O2 has seen a lot of tennis in the last 10 years. It’s a great place,” Nadal says. “I think the atmosphere is going to be great. We expect a huge atmosphere and we are having good fun.”
How are you
Nadal started the season by winning 21 games in a row, including 21 unexpected onesStreet A big win in the AO while also winning titles in Melbourne and Acapulco. His success was even more surprising given that Nadal had a chronic foot problem a few months earlier.
While he failed to win a claycourt event in the run-up to the Roland Garros tournament, Nadal did not shy away from a staggering 14.The tenth The French Open before reaching the semi-finals of Wimbledon, was only rescinded due to a rupture of the abdominal muscle.
Frances Tiafoe of Team World used an inspiring effort to beat Nadal at the US Open in four sets in the fourth round, leaving Nadal with a 38-5 season record leading up to the 2022 Laver Cup.
About playing the Laver Cup
While Nadal is known for his tireless efforts on every point, the tour veteran is well aware of the Laver Cup’s unique atmosphere, particularly with the likes of Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud.
“I always enjoy playing team competitions, without a doubt,” he said. “I haven’t been able to play in a team as much as I’d like. It’s so special. When you share a win, a loss, happy moments, low moments – things are better. Better than if you were alone.”
He says of his team: “We are excited to play together. We are looking forward to spending a week together in a positive team spirit.”
But why was Team Europe so successful? And what makes the Laver Cup format so different from other events in the sport?
“The secret is that we played better,” he says. “Although the two of [years] It was very, very close. The way he scores the Laver Cup is very dangerous. Even if you start off well and think you’re in control, anything can happen on the last day. When you start not so well and you seem to be in a difficult situation, on the last day, if you can win these matches, you can still take them. This makes the competition very special, and very emotional. Even if you’re at an advantage, you know every match is going to be a battle and anything can happen.”