Rafael Nadal insists he will "keep fighting" as he silenced retirement talk after winning a staggering 14th French Open title on Sunday.
With speculation rife he would soon hang up his racquet, Nadal received a roaring ovation when stepping on to Court Philippe-Chatrier ahead of his final with Casper Ruud.
After demolishing the Norwegian in straight sets, many expected him to use his ceremony speech to tease his retirement. Instead, he suggested the show will go on.
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“It’s amazing the things that are happening this year,” said Nadal on court.
“For me personally, it’s very difficult to describe the feelings that I have.
“It’s something that I never believed to be here at 36 – being competitive again, playing on the most important court of my career. It means [an awful] lot to me.”
“I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I’m going to keep fighting!”
The Spaniard has been tormented by a chronic foot injury, which ruled him out of the back end of last season and interrupted his progress this campaign.
Although he returned to win the Australian Open, and then again from a debilitating rib injury to win at Roland-Garros, doubts have persisted about how long he will last in the sport.
Nadal later revealed to Eurosport that he needed injections in his left foot to get through the tournament in Paris.

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'I’m always ready to play Wimbledon'

Nadal is already turning his attention towards the grass swing, with Wimbledon the next major on the horizon.
The 36-year-old says he will play at SW19 if he can survive on anti-inflammatory medication, but said he would not take more injections to play in pursuit of a title he won in 2008 and 2010.
"Wimbledon is a priority. If I am able to play with anti-inflammatories, yes [I will play], but with anaesthetic injections, no [I won’t play]," he told a press conference.
"I don’t want to put myself in that position again. It’s not a philosophy I want to follow.”
He added: "Wimbledon is not a tournament I want to miss, it’s not a tournament anyone wants to miss. I love Wimbledon. I’ve had a lot of success there. A player like me, I’m always ready to play Wimbledon.”
Nadal now has a staggering 22 Grand Slam singles titles to his name, which puts him two clear of his great tennis rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the all-time race. It is also the first time Nadal has won the Australian Open and the French Open in the same year.
“I would think it must be [the sweetest title for Nadal]," said Eurosport expert Mats Wilander.
"First of all, he didn’t know if he was going to be able to play, every morning when he woke up. But now [we must] focus on not 14… but 22!
"He’s two ahead of Novak and Roger now, and this could be the reason that he goes down as the greatest player of all time. Again, he’s so humble and in the present moment that it seems like he’s going to keep going."

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26/11/2022 AT 09:03