Rafael Nadal has struck a blow for tennis longevity with his declaration that himself, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are certainly not at the end of their run of ATP domination.
Between them, the over-30 trio have hoovered up most of the Grand Slams and other titles on the Tour for a decade and a half.
And Nadal, 34, said that they’re likely not done yet.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion suggested that the just-concluded COVID-interrupted “sad” 2020 season was certainly far from normal with its five-month stoppage due to the virus pandemic.
But 2021 will be another story for the band of elites, he added.
“We’ll still be here for a while longer, competing and striving to win,” the player who lifted his 13th Roland Garros title in October told a Spanish TV talk show.
Nadal managed to compete in just four events after the August tennis re-start skipping the US Open but winning in the Paris clay and reaching semi-finals at the Paris Bercy Masters and the ATP Finals last month in London.
Djokovic won the Australian Open in January, adding four more titles in 2020.
Federer lost to Djokovic in the Melbourne semis, then missed the rest of the season after two knee procedures.
“We can’t let ourselves fall into everyday defeatism,” Nadal told the Spanish audience. “Taking an optimistic view of life helps us get through difficult times.
“Work, dedication, passion and commitment are required. “Everyone has to find their own path and what makes them give the best of themselves.”
He added: “Although things are going very well for me, it is definitely true that it is a sad year in general.”
Players at all levels remain in suspense as Australian Open bosses and local government officials drag their feet on dates for the sure-to-be-delayed Open, originally set for mid-January but now reportedly knocked back by three weeks to February 8.
If it is staged, the competition will be held in a bio-bubble in Melbourne with players required to quarantine for a fortnight upon entry into the locked-down nation.
No word is expected before next week on the tournament.