Rafael Nadal is more excited about the thrill of battling for Grand Slam trophies than he is worried about if he ever holds the record for Grand Slam titles.
The 33-year-old Spaniard, an 18-time major champion, defeated Italy’s Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (8/6), 6-4, 6-1 on Friday at the US Open to book a Sunday final showdown with Russian fifth seed Daniil Medvedev.
Roger Federer has won a record 20 Grand Slam titles with Nadal next and top-ranked Serbian Novak Djokovic closing fast on 16 after winning four of the past five Slam crowns.
As much as the “Big Three” are fighting for the lead, Federer at age 38 and Djokovic the youngest at 32, Nadal says the chance to be in the fight means more than the final trophy total.
“Of course, I would love to be the one who achieves more Grand Slams, but I still sleep very well without being the one who has more Grand Slams,” Nadal said.
“I am happy about my career. I am very happy about what I’m doing. I’m going to keep working hard to try to produce chances. Sunday is one. It’s just one more chance, that’s all. My opponents are going to keep playing.”
World No 2 Nadal sees it as a simple matter of enjoying what you have achieved and not coveting someone else’s accomplishments.
“If I able to win on Sunday, okay, it will be amazing,” Nadal said. “If I lose, I hope to keep having chances in the future to add things. But as I always say and is true: I would love to be the one to have more, yes, but you cannot be all day frustrated or all day thinking about what does your neighbor have better than you. You have to be happy with yourself. You have to do your way. If you are the one to achieve more, fantastic. If not, at least I give my best during all my career. That’s all.”
Nadal won his first Grand Slam at the 2005 French Open and this year captured his 12th career title on the red clay of Roland Garros.
Asked what sustains his desire to play after having fought off numerous knee injuries and achieved a career Grand Slam, Nadal cited his love for the challenge and the thrill tennis brings him.
“What sustains you? I don’t know,” he said. “Secret is probably just the passion for what you are doing. It’s not possible to have a long career if you don’t enjoy what you are doing.”
It’s the uncertainty of sport, where any match could provide exciting thrills or great disappointment. “When I arrived here, my goal was to produce a chance to compete for the big thing again. Here I am,” Nadal said.
“I give myself another chance... That’s the personal satisfaction. That’s the personal happiness. You win, you lose. That’s part of all the sport.”