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RAF PLAN: Rafael Nadal reveals plan for 2020 is just to stay fit as he hunts down Roger Federer record after injury nightmares

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The world No2, 33, has been plagued with injuries throughout his time on ATP Tour, especially with knee problems.

And as he nears the twilight of his trophy-laden career, he is desperate to just be in a position where he can begin to challenge for titles in 2020.

Nadal won his 85th career crown at the Mexico Open last weekend but knows if he wants to add to that tally, he needs to keep his body in shape.

Asked about his goals for this season, he said: “We don’t have to think about the future at the moment, only to enjoy the title.

Rafa in action

“Winning Acapulco doesn’t guarantee a great year. It means it’s a good start that will give me confidence ahead of the next tournaments.

“This triumph allows me to gain places in the ATP Race for London, which is one of the goals of the season.

“In addition to that, I want to stay healthy and chase as many titles as possible.

“I’m still competing at the highest level, eager to produce more weeks like the one in Acapulco.”

CHASING TROPHIES
The Acapulco win – where he beat close friend and fishing buddy Grigor Dimitrov in the semis – ensured Nadal had won at least one title for the 17th season in a row.

But despite finishing the year as the world No1 five times including in 2019, the Spaniard has never won the ATP Finals.

He has qualified for the tournament that concludes the season with the world’s top-eight tennis stars for the last 15 years but often finds his body has already given up on him by that time of the year.

Before that showpiece event at London’s O2 Arena in November, though, Nadal will be hoping to add to his tally for the year.

He is set to feature at the ‘Sunshine Double’ of the Masters 1000 events at Indian Wells and Miami this month.

World No1 Novak Djokovic will be the favourite going into both events before the European clay-court swing which favours the Spaniard.

Rafa knows if he can win the French Open once again this year, it will be a case of lucky No13.

His tally of 19 Grand Slams places him just one behind fellow legend Roger Federer and with the Swiss great recovering from knee surgery, Nadal will be confident he can draw level at the top of the pile in the history of the men’s game.

But while they may be long-standing rivals on the court, Nadal opened up about their friendship off it.

The Spaniard revealed they get on really well after sharing the limelight for so many years.

He said: “It’s a rivalry, of course, but it’s also a friendship. We’re having a great story together. We have had long careers.

“Facing each other in the most important tournaments for such a very, very long time.

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“Good Person”: Rafael Nadal Opens up on His Relationship With Rival Novak Djokovic

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Many tennis fans wonder how Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic get along outside the tennis court. Their conduct towards each other on the tennis court is always respectful, and that translates outside the court as well, as admitted by Nadal. The Spaniard spoke about his relationship with Djokovic, whom he called a good person.

“I have a good relationship with him. Is a good person. We must relativize things between us,”  Nadal said, in a recent interview, throwing light on his camaraderie with Djokovic.

There was also speculation among fans as to what Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic spoke about at the end of their French Open 2020 final. Interestingly, it was one of the most one-sided battles they have played over the years. However, Nadal said that Djokovic, with whom he shares a strong relationship, simply congratulated him and nothing more.

Rafael Nadal understands why Novak Djokovic did not say much

I could not talk to him. He congratulated me on the track and that’s it. It is normal,” Nadal said. He said he understands that Djokovic was not in a mood to talk, as no one usually is, after a heartbreaking loss.

When you lose a game like that, you don’t really want to talk. I understand it,” Nadal added.

Nadal avenged his one-sided loss in the 2019 Australian Open final against Djokovic. The two men also shared a respectful exchange during the trophy ceremony post their match. Nadal lauded Djokovic and said he hopes to keep facing him, further adding to their already great rivalry.

What you’re doing in tennis is very very special. Hope to keep facing you [Djokovic] on the court for the next couple of years,” Nadal said to Djokovic.

The mutual respect between the two stars

Despite not having a conversation with Nadal after the match, Djokovic spoke highly of Nadal in his post-match presser. Djokovic highlighted why Nadal is a great champion. He also admitted that it was one of those days where Nadal was simply the better player and there was not much he could do to tame the ‘King of Clay’.

I was also thinking that these conditions are more favorable to me. I was feeling great throughout the tournament playing. […] But, yeah, I mean, Rafa has proven everybody wrong. That’s why he’s a great champion. He just played a fantastic match today,” he said.

The two champions are expected to resume their rivalry at the ATP Finals next month. While they will not face each other in the Round Robin stage, the anticipation of another Nadal-Djokovic final is already running high.

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