Rafael Nadal: ‘I still have the interior fire to keep going and…’

A prestigious award, above all because the players of the circuit voted. Among the names of the winners of the 2021 ATP Awards could certainly not miss that of Rafael Nadal, who won the title symbol of sportsmanship, named after former tennis player Stefan Edberg. It is the fourth consecutive year that colleagues recognize fair play, professionalism, values ​​of integrity and respect for sport on and off the pitch of the Spaniard, who is pleased to have received the fifth Awards in this specific category during his long career (the first had arrived in 2010). A great satisfaction for the 35-year-old from Manacor, who is facing the difficult return after being stopped in the pits for a long time and not having played an official race since August. The exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi, although it did not reach the final due to Andy Murray, was very important on several aspects for the winner of 20 Grand Slam titles, who aims to be at the Australian Open in January in the best possible conditions. Nadal spoke to the ATP after the news of the award received: “I cannot be happier to have the Sportsmanship Award once again from my colleagues on the tour. It means a lot to me, so thank you very much to all the players who think I’m the right one to get this accolade,” he said. Then he went on, adding: “Honestly, it means a lot to me because I always try to be fair on the pitch. Thank you for believing in me and I wish all the best for the 2022 season to all the players on the circuit.”

Nadal is looking forward to the 2022 tennis season

Rafael Nadal believes he and Roger Federer are “equal” given their recent injury struggles. The Spaniard has also admitted that Novak Djokovic’s chances in the Grand Slam race are “much higher” than the two. “It’s going to be super difficult for me,” Nadal said. “If things are going well, I’m only going to play one tournament before Australia and these two matches here, so the amount of hours on court at the competitive level before such a tough and demanding tournament like Australia will be not much. But the main thing is still always the same, be healthy,” he insisted. “If I am healthy, I still have the interior fire to keep going and to fight for my goals. I am outside of the competition for the last five, six months,” Nadal admitted. “I understand that the conversation [about the Grand Slam race] is always there, especially with Novak that he has been playing every week almost. Me and Roger have been injured for such a long period of time. Of course we are equal, but the chances for Novak are much higher than for us.”

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