With his 27th birthday just around the corner, Rafael Nadal is still arguably in the prime of his life. Providing his ailing knees survive for a few more years, the Spaniard will expect to add to his 11 grand slam titles but it was interesting to hear him discuss yesterday what he might do when he finally puts his rackets away, whenever that day is.
The seven months he had out of the game until February – as he painstakingly allowed his left knee to recover – frustrated him intensely but far from being the kind of person who will be lost without tennis, Nadal said he believes he will be more than able to cope with the inevitable change.
“I didn’t need to stop to think about that (thought),” Nadal said this week. “I like sport and I’m still going to be involved in sport. I’m sure on that because I love sport in general. If it’s not tennis, it will be in other sports. I love to be in Majorca but I need to (be active). I need to be doing things, doing projects and to have motivations. I really hate to be on the sofa watching the TV.”
Could that be coaching? “I cannot say never because you never know but I really don’t know,” he said. “I am sure that we will build a very good academy in Majorca and it is a project that really motivates me because it is something that I really want to do it. I want to be around (tennis) for sure– I don’t know if it will be coaching – but I love the kids, I love sport in general and I will be around sport all the time.”
Some sportsmen struggle with the thought of ending something that has been their life. Others regret the sacrifices they made. For Nadal, it has all been worth it. “I am very happy and I think I had the chance to live better than, for sure, most other people,” he said.
“I had the chance to enjoy a lot of experiences that, without the life I had, I never probably would have had the chance to do it. I have to be very honoured about what happened and just can say thanks to the life all what it gave me.
“I enjoyed a lot during this period of time to do what I am doing and I’m happy and I want to keep doing that for the next years. Then we will find other things to do. But for sure I don’t think after tennis I will have a problem to be happy doing a lot of things. I love tennis but I’m happy when I’m at home and doing different things, too.”