Rafael Nadal says he would have retired if he felt his injuries stopped him from competing with titles, but he knows he’s struggling to match the top ATP youngsters now.
Nadal has been a dominant force in tennis for 20 years alongside rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, although his career certainly feels like it is nearing an end.
He is still winning, of course, and added two more majors to take his career tally to a record 22 during the 2022 season.
There have also been many injury struggles long the way, with a degenerative foot condition especially problematic over the last 12 months.
He worried that might have forced him to retire when the problem was at its height at the French Open, and while he suffered with abdominal injuries in the latter half of the year he had to watch compatriot Carlos Alcaraz become the youngest ATP world number one in history.
He looks at Alcaraz, and other top ATP youngsters covetously in terms of what they are able to do, but he is far from ready to write himself off quite yet.
"I am no longer young,” Nadal said in a recent interview with Esquire. “I look at the new generations and I see in them the things that I did before and can no longer do.
"If the injuries had prevented me from playing with a chance of winning, I would have retired. But you see, for now I still see myself capable of aspiring to the titles.
"I don't consider myself an unbreakable man, far from it, and in fact in my case I always play with a lot of pressure on the court.
“The pressure exists for everyone and the important thing is to know how to manage it to be able to do what you want. In my case, it's obviously winning that match, that tournament, that gets complicated for whatever reason.”
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