Rafael Nadal is glad that he continues to prove wrong many a naysayer, who predicted that his career would be a short one owing to his aggressive style of play.
The Spaniard won his 12th Barcelona Open title on Sunday, which came 16 years after his first title in the same event. Nadal has nothing left to prove having won every major title, including an Olympic gold medal during his illustrious career, but he remains as motivated as ever to win more titles and compete at the very top of the game.
"For many years I heard that I would have a short career because of my style of play," Nadal said, as quoted on Tennis World USA. "At the end of the day, I'm still here, fighting for the biggest titles. I love tennis. I'm proud of it."
The Barcelona Open was only Nadal's third tournament of the year after he picked up a back injury in the build up to the Australian Open in January. He lost in the quarterfinals of the first Grand Slam of the year in Australia before spending two months on the sidelines.
The former world No.1 returned to action at the Monte Carlo Masters and said that he was in good shape. However, Nadal suffered a shock defeat again in the quarterfinals at the hands of eventual finalist, Andrey Rublev.
"In sport, it's difficult to plan things, as it's quite unpredictable," Nadal added. "We try to be as ready as possible in every tournament. In fact, I arrived at Monte Carlo in very good shape, both in confidence and game, but then you have a bad match against a great player. So in sport you have to be ready to accept anything that could happen."
Nadal was not at his ultimate best even at the Barcelona open, dropping sets in the first two rounds. He faced the in-form Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final, and after saving match point in the deciding set, he conquered the Greek sensation to win his first title of the year.
Nadal's next quest for a title will be at the Mutua Madrid Open next week, but his ultimate goal remains winning a 14th French Open title at Roland Garros in June. Another title on the fabled red dirt will see him overtake Roger Federer on the all-time Grand Slam winner list.
"Obviously, Roland Garros is always marked in my calendar and I'll do my best to get there in the best possible way. But there is still a long way till then," the 20-time men's singles Grand Slam champion concluded.