Dubai: Rafael Nadal, now world No.2 and a tennis icon, is not too concerned about what the future holds for him as he heads towards a record-bettering 21st Grand Slam crown in Melbourne next month.
Nadal, who equalled Roger Federer’s 20 Grand Slam titles after winning a record 13th crown at Roland Garros in October last year, dwelt on his future after he stops playing tennis.
“It’s something that never worried much to me. I think my personal life, I am enough happy in my personal life away from tennis, to keep having goals, to keep having chances to learn in different things and of course I already have important things for my future to take care,” Nadal told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview.
“I have my foundation that is growing, and of course will be an important part of my future, so I want to take care more about my foundation. And of course I have my academy, that’s growing too, we have different centres around the world,” the 34-year-old Spaniard added.
Nadal owns and trains at the Rafa Nadal Sports Centre in his hometown of Manacor, Mallorca. The centre houses the Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy, where the American International School of Mallorca is located.
Also located in the centre is a sports residence, a Rafael Nadal museum, a health clinic, a fitness centre with spa and a café. The facility has 26 tennis courts among its sporting areas.
Nadal created the Fundación Rafa Nadal in November 2007 while focusing on social work and development aid, particularly on childhood and youth. His mother, Ana María Parera, chairs the charitable organisation and father Sebastian is vice-chairman.
In October 2010, Nadal travelled to India for the first time to visit his tennis academy for underprivileged children at the Anantapur Sports Cillage in Andhra Pradesh. One of the most affable global sports icons, Nadal sees the importance of leading by example, especially at this moment when high-profile athletes have been using their voices to call for racial and gender equality. “For us it’s mandatory to be a positive example for society. It’s important to send the right messages to the world and especially to the young people,” He observed.
“So for me, what we have to say, or what we don’t have to say, we need to think before. Because a lot of people are putting their eyes on what we are doing,” the Spaniard added.
He said how his rivalry with Federer and Novak Djokovic has pushed the limits of sports. Nadal sits level with Federer on 20 major titles while Djokovic is three behind at 17 majors to his name. Nadal explained that he’s not obsessed with passing Federer.
“I did much more than what I ever dreamt in my tennis career. It would be amazing for me to win one more. But I know that will not be the key for my happiness in the future. It’s not extra pressure and it’s not an obsession,” he related.
“I think we always had a good relationship, a lot of respect. We did beautiful things together and important things for our sport,” he noted.
“And in terms of professional tennis career, we push each other to be better. Have somebody in front of you that’s doing a lot of things better than you, gives you a clear way about where you need to improve to achieve your goals. And that’s what happened between Roger and I at the beginning, then later with Novak,” he admitted.
Heading into the season-opening slam at Melbourne Park from February 8, Nadal admitted that while he appreciates the situation is far from ideal, especially for those under strict restrictions, his fellow professionals should have a “wider perspective”.
“When we came here, we knew that the measures were going to be strict, because we knew that the country is doing great with the pandemic. You see how many are dying around the world. You see how many people are losing their father, their mum, without having the chance to say goodbye. It’s a real thing, not a philosophical thing, that’s real life,” he added.