Greatest fighter ever
New York: Rafael Nadal has shown plenty of emotions throughout his legendary 18-year ATP Tour career, but they've rarely included tears. There wasn't a dry eye in the house after the Spaniard prevailed in an epic US Open final on Sunday over Daniil Medvedev, with the 33-year-old sobbing in a mixture of delight and exhaustion when he clinched his fourth title in New York.
The tears even continued during the on-court ceremony. Nadal was overcome by emotion once more when a special video montage was shown on the jumbo screen that highlighted his past Grand Slam triumphs. He's worked tirelessly throughout his career to overcome difficult injuries and painful defeats, but hadn't seen the fruits of those efforts in one sitting until that moment.
"In some way that's good [to] see all the things I went through. Being able to still be here is so special for me," Nadal said. "I went through some tough moments, physically especially. When you have physical issues, then mentally things became much more difficult.
"The emotions were there watching all the success, all the moments... I tried to hold the emotion, but at some moments it was impossible. I'm just very happy. This trophy means everything to me today."
When a right knee injury forced Nadal to retire from last year's US Open semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro and ultimately shut down his season, he remained unflinchingly positive. He applied the same attitude when his right knee also forced him to withdraw from his BNP Paribas Open semi-final this year against Roger Federer. Nadal shifted priorities and put his efforts into recovery, focusing only on what he could control.
"I needed to adapt my game to my problems and to my goals," Nadal said. "When you lose things, you need to add another things to keep being competitive.
Positivity his paid off for Nadal. He's riding a 10-match winning streak and prevailed in 27 of his past 28 matches. The 33-year-old also has a hefty 1,960 point lead over Novak Djokovic in the ATP Race to London.
Although Nadal is currently on track to finish as year-end No. 1 for the fifth time, he's remaining typically in the moment. He'll compete next at Laver Cup before heading to Asia for the Rolex Shanghai Masters. But while Nadal can certainly pick up more ATP Tour titles this season if he maintains his current level, nearly two decades on Tour has enabled him to roll with whatever comes his way. "You can't predict what's going to happen in this life," Nadal said. "You need to be prepared to accept everything."