Love of the game more important than title haul for US Open winner Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal holds the US Open trophy after defeating Daniil Medvedev. Picture: AP/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
Rafael Nadal holds the US Open trophy after defeating Daniil Medvedev. Picture: AP/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
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Rafael Nadal may be one grand slam away from equalling Roger Federer’s record and could finish the year overtaking Novak Djokovic to become world No 1 – but he insists he is chasing no one.

Nadal won his 19th major title in dramatic fashion after holding off a remarkable comeback from Russian Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s US Open final.

What gives you the happiness is the personal satisfaction that you’ve given your best. In that way I am very, very calm, very pleased with myself. If I am able to be No 1 doing it my way, great. But it’s not my main goal.

Rafael Nadal

He led by two sets and a break but ended up playing for almost five hours before closing out a breathless 7-5 6-4 5-7 4-6 6-4 victory.

A fourth US Open title has opened up the possibility of stealing a march on his two ‘big three’ rivals, but the 33-year-old Spaniard said: “I don’t look it that way.

“I always say the same, I would love to be the one who wins more, but I am not thinking and I am not going to practice every day or not playing tennis for it. I am playing tennis because I love to play tennis.

“I feel honoured to be part of this battle. But you can’t be all day looking next to you if one has more or one has a little bit less, because you will be frustrated.

“I would love to be the one who has more, yes. But I really believe that I will not be happier or less happy if that happens or does not happen.

“What gives you the happiness is the personal satisfaction that you’ve given your best. In that way I am very, very calm, very pleased with myself.

“If I am able to be No 1 doing it my way, great. But it’s not my main goal. With my age and with my goals, I cannot lose energy or time following the No 1. I need to think about my career in a different way.

Medvedev, who came so close to breaking the hegemony of the ‘big three’, is now officially the next cab off the rank having moved up to four in the world.

The 23-year-old said: “It’s really tough because these guys, they are playing amazing tennis.”

“It’s really tough to beat them, even to get a set from them, even every game to win is tough. We’re just doing our best job to try to make it happen sometimes.”