Rafael Nadal insisted that his passion for the game remains as strong as ever after he emerged victorious in Sunday’s US Open final to claim the 16th Grand Slam title of his career.
Nadal who also clinched La Decima earlier in the year following his victory over Stan Wawrinka at Roland Garros, stormed past Kevin Anderson in two hours and 27 minutes at New York’s Arthur Ashe stadium, winning 6-3 6-3 6-4.
With Roger Federer winning in Australia and Wimbledon, it is the first time in seven years that the sport’s two biggest superstars have swept its greatest prizes.
The renewed dominance of the pair would have been scarcely believable at the end of last season, when injuries put question marks over both of their futures.
Although Nadal admitted after Sunday’s victory that he was surprised with the result, he said that he will be competing for as long as physically possible.
“Of course I am surprised,” said Nadal. “But I was surprised in January. Now I am not that much surprised.
“After the first two, three months of the season, you see that I am playing well, and if I am playing well on clay, I normally am going to have my chances.”
He added: “I’m very happy with all the things that are happening to me, winning this title again. I have this trophy with me.
“It’s so important, winning on hard court again. That’s a lot of positive energy for me. Being healthy, you see everything more possible. With injuries, everything seems impossible.
“It’s true that I am 31, I am not 25, but I still have the passion and the love for the game. I still want to compete and still feel the nerves every time that I go on court. While those things keep happening, I will be here.”
Given Nadal is 31 to Federer’s 36, the prospect of the former eventually overtaking the latter appears distinctly possible once more, though the Spaniard downplayed such a possibility.
“I really never thought much about that,” insisted Nadal. “I just do my way. He does his way. Let’s see when we finish.
“Of course if I will win two grand slams this year and he will not win, we’ll be closer, but he has 19, I have 16. So three is a big difference.