Rafael Nadal has accomplished everything there is to accomplish on a tennis court, and that's why he's approaching his comeback to the sport with a flawless attitude.
No worries. No complaints.
The clay-court king won his first match since returning to the court this February, winning doubles with teammate Juan Monaco at the ATP VTR Open in Chile. Prior to Tuesday's match, Nadal had been away from the game for over seven months, resting his aching left knee.
At age 26, Rafa might as well be considered an old man in men's tennis. Although he is only one year older than top dogs Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, the wear and tear he has put on his body, his knees and feet especially, has taken an obvious toll.
Nadal discussed his comeback following Tuesday's doubles victory (according to The Associated Press via ESPN.com):
The knee -- I said it when I got here. I would prefer not to keep talking about the topic. At the end of the day the doctors have said it's OK. There is no risk of making it worse. My knee keeps hurting. But the fact I am playing here is a thing of joy.
I am not 100 percent, I need some weeks. If it hurts, it hurts and we'll put up with it. I am here to play tennis, with or without pain...I'm happy to have played an official game, although it was doubles.
If one day it is worse, and one can't compete at 100 percent, then it can't be done.
Clearly, Nadal is approaching his comeback with a "nothing to lose" mentality. After all, as an 11-time Grand Slam champion and an Olympic gold medalist, he has nothing left to prove. At this point in his career, he's playing for the record books.
His legacy has already been cemented.
As a tennis fan, you have to love Rafa's attitude. He's not content to quit while he's ahead, but instead, he understands that the pain comes with the territory, that it's the price he has to pay for one of the most successful careers in the history of tennis.
The same drive that helped Nadal become the first man in the Open era to win seven French Open titles is the one that pushes him to return to the court despite the pain.
Rafa seems to be at peace with his reality, and his ideal attitude reflects that.
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