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You learn a lot more from wins than from defeats, in-form Nadal says

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
dpa


NEW YORK - Spain's Rafael Nadal won his 16th Grand Slam tournament Sunday at the US Open, and he is enjoying success and the world-number-one spot after many left his career for dead.

Nadal disagrees with popular wisdom that you learn more in defeat.

"You learn a lot more from wins, if you have the ability to be self-critical and the humility to know how to analyse things," he told dpa in an interview on the rooftop of New York's Lotte Palace Hotel.

"Defeats breed doubts and lack of confidence, and it's harder to work that way. Of course at some point they help, but with wins, with self-criticism and hard work, everything is easier," he said.

Nadal is well-known for his resilience and his ability to overcome setbacks, both during games and over the course of his long life as a professional tennis player.

"I have a great ability to keep up hope. I have had that throughout my career," he said.

"You could also talk about strategy, but it all boils down to hope and to the ability to acknowledge problems and to try to overcome them.

"If you keep up hope and stay calm when things go badly, you already have the ability to try to look for a solution," he explained.

Roger Federer is the only man who has won more Grand Slam tournaments than the Spaniard, a total of 19, and their rivalry spans many years. Nadal admits that competition has been good for his game, but he notes most of his drive comes from elsewhere.

"Playing Federer, playing [Novak] Djokovic, playing [Andy] Murray and playing such good players means you know you need to do your best to be able to compete with them. And of course it motivates you and helps you work more intensely," Nadal admitted.

"But I also say I have never needed motivation from other people. My motivation is always personal, wanting to improve and to do the things I do well," he said.

Both Nadal and Federer had injury breaks last year and are now doing well. The Spaniard thinks the same may happen to Djokovic, Murray or Stanislas Wawrinka when they get back on the tour.

"It's clear that they have the quality and the ability, because they have proved that already. If they are healthy, they will fight to be at the top," he said.

Federer is focusing on major tournaments rather than playing every week, but Nadal has no plans to do the same.

"Results make your schedule. Federer has had that schedule because since the start of the year he won in Australia, then he won at Indian Wells and later won in Miami," Nadal said.

"If Federer had not won, he would have played half as many games. The important thing is not the number of tournaments you play, but the number of games and the results you get. If Federer had not won, he would have played more tournaments, and it's the same for me," he said.

Looking ahead, Nadal is still not sure he would like to implement such a schedule, however.

"We each have our own personality, our goals and our hopes. Plus I am 31 and he is 36, these are different times in our lives," Nadal noted. "I don't think of a schedule like Federer's right now."

When asked whether Federer needs fewer games to find the right rhythm, Nadal is unconvinced. He himself had great comebacks from injury in 2013 and again this year, he recalled.

"There are times when things happen one way or another, and luck plays a part too," he said.

In his 30s, Nadal still hopes for many more years on the ATP tour, and he would like to keep improving.

"We all have a natural evolution. Along the way I have lost a few things and gained many others. Over the years to come, which I hope are several more, I will keep losing a few things and I hope to gain others to keep competing at the highest level," he said.

That does not mean changing his style of play, however.

"You cannot go against your style. What you need to do is to be ready so that your head, your body and your style of play are in line with your options, because you cannot go against your mentality," Nadal said.

"Within that framework, you can of course adjust things. It is true that I am more aggressive than I was eight years ago, but the basis of my game is the same."

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