Rafael Nadal is currently recovering from an injury that prevented him from finishing the 2012 season on a high note, but the Spanish star still has plenty of good tennis left in him.
He recently spoke with Vanity Fair about his career (via ATP.com):
I don't know how long I will keep playing tennis. I'll be 31 in five years and taking into account the fact that I started at 16.
Perhaps stopping now will help extend my career a little bit more. Until I had the problems with the knee again, the final at Roland Garros, had been one of the best seasons of my life. I felt able to win any competition. Complicated times came later.
Even if he still has to deal with injuries for the rest of his career, Nadal is still going to be one of the three or four best players in the world, and someone who is always a top contender at each tournament.
Even if he isn't as much of a factor as he used to be in Grand Slams, Nadal will always be the man to beat at Roland Garros. Not only is he better on clay than most, if not all, of his opponents, but he also has a mental advantage over his competitors in France.
Nadal is also going to be tough to beat at the U.S. Open, where he hasn't been knocked out before the semifinal round since 2007.
For all the praise that Nadal receives for his clay-court dominance, and rightfully so, he is a very talented player on hard courts.
He's certainly capable of winning the Australian Open in January and the U.S. Open next summer. He hasn't failed to reach the quarterfinals in Melbourne since 2005. It wouldn't be surprising if Nadal won three more Grand Slams next year.
You could argue that Nadal at 85-95 percent is still more likely to do well at a Grand Slam than other top players such as Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. A healthy Nadal is the best player in the world.
Even with injuries, Nadal has the ability to fight through pain and still play at a high level. His athleticism isn't what it used to be, but it's still good enough for him to be effective against the best players in the world.
Nadal still has plenty of good tennis left to play and will win at least two more Grand Slams before his memorable career concludes.
Nadal is one person no one will want to face in 2013.
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