Though he has climbed to within a pair of Grand Slam titles of tying the once-unthinkable 20 of Roger Federer, 12-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal says he is not overwhelmed with the desire to catch up his Swiss rival.
“It’s a motivation, but it’s not my obsession,” the No. 2 Spaniard said on Sunday after capturing another Roland Garros title with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 defeat of Dominic Thiem in a repeat of the 2018 final here.
“If you ask me whether I would like it, of course. If that’s a goal in my career – it’s not what makes me get up every morning or go and train and play.
“It’s not the way in which I view the sport, and it’s not the way in which I consider my sports career.”
The 33-year-old added: “I want to follow my own journey, give myself the best opportunities, and give myself the possibility of competing at the highest level.
“And if I end up in a position like that of today where I’m the one who won most Roland Garros in history, well, all very well.”
Nadal believes the honour may count little in the grand scheme.
“I don’t think my future will be worth any more if I equal Federer’s record or if I do something like Djokovic or whatever. I consider that I’m going much further than I dreamt about in my career.
“I’m having a very long and successful career, obviously. I have been able to have great experiences.
“If it weren’t for tennis, I wouldn’t have lived these experiences now.”
he said that levelling or surpassing Federer “is the last thing that I was thinking about, honestly.
“I just value my playing and having this beautiful career more than anything.”Watched by former Spanish king Juan Carlos, Nadal overwhelmed Thiem 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 6-1.He wrapped up victory serving for the match fifth set; Thiem sent a backhand wide for two match points.
Nadal fired long on the first, but the Austrian put a return over the baseline on the second to fall after three hours.
Thiem accepted his fate. “It’s tough right now, Rafa just played amazing again,” he said.
“I played with all of my heart, what he does is just unreal. I’m sad to lose, but Rafa’s a great champion.
“I’ll try next year for sure to try and win,” said the two-time finalist in Paris. “I’m looking forward to it already.”
Of his 24 career Grand Slam finals Nadal has won every one he has played at Roland Garros; he now owns 60 clay trophies and stands 18-8 in Grand Slam finals