Rafa Nadal has admitted that equalling Roger Federer's Grand Slam tally of 20 would be a dream for him.
The Spaniard is currently on 19 Grand Slam titles and will be targeting more in 2020.
"I'm on my own path, like I have been my whole life. This is the reality," Nadal told MARCA.
"But [reaching 20 Grand Slams] is a dream, although I think that restrained ambition is bad."
Nadal answered several questions about his academy, museum, his fans and his personal life, as well as talking more about his competition with Federer.
How does it feel to see the Rafa Nadal Academy grow?
- We've been going non-stop for years and it's not just my close team but more than 300 workers. We're trying to give the best service possible to everyone that visits us so that they leave with a good memory.
What stands out is a museum of Spanish sporting history.
- We're lucky that great athletes from past and present have lent us their historical objects to put on display, and this is the great satisfaction. It's not just a tennis museum or a museum about me. I always wanted to steer away from that. What I wanted was to make it for the whole world of sport. Evidently, because it's about my academy, I had to be central. But I think it encapsulates sport in general and that's why I wanted a little bit of everything.
Do you think there will be a Spanish youngster coming through than can win trophies alongside you soon?
- Let's hope so, that's what we work for. But you have to be honest and not push people. We're a very young centre, we've only been going for three years. The results of academies are often seen as the years go by. A young, already developed player than come here and be successful to make the academy more well-known across the world. But the real success of a place like this has to be the foundation work. We need more time to see the results.
How does the support of your fans feel?
- I'm lucky enough to receive so much love and support from so many people. Sometimes this is more important than winning. When I'm injured, people always ask me what I miss most about tennis: it's this feeling of going out on court, seeing the fans that want to see you, fans who want to support you wherever it is in the world. It's a difficult feeling to explain, but it gives me great personal satisfaction. It suggests that you've done well on and off court with good behaviour. The personal side is always more important than the professional side
What is your philosophy?
- You can always do a little bit more. I don't want to go away knowing that I didn't fight until the end. I think this is what keeps the balance. If I'm not all there, I'm sure that I won't succeed. If I'm there, even though I'm playing badly, I can succeed. Why not? I put videos of me on the Internet, I see positive, exciting moments and you realise that you've done it before. I never want to have the feeling that I gave up.
Nicolas Almagro made a phrase about you famous during the 2008 French Open: "This guy will still be winning here at 65 years old."
- Do you think your opponents see you as unbeatable on the clay at Paris?I don't think they see me as unbeatable because I've lost before. No one is unbeatable, and let's hope this continues. It's like that. Being unbeatable isn't a human trait. Human beings aren't perfect and invincibility is perfection. Everyone is beatable and I consider myself normal and ordinary despite having done special things on a tennis court. In the best moments of my career, my opponents will have thought it was difficult to beat me at Roland Garros in the same way that I look at playing against Federer and [Novak] Djokovic, who are very difficult for me to beat.
How do you manage your tennis career with your personal life?
- Your personal life is much more important than your sporting one and your personal life, god willing, is much longer than your sporting one. It's more important to be a person than a sportsperson. I'm not scared of praise or criticism because I've experienced them both naturally. When I've had brilliant moments, I'm always shy away from praise out of shyness or personal health. I'm not a very euphoric or dramatic person. I try to be well-rounded to have control over my emotions. When I'm playing badly, I don't get too down and when I'm playing well, I don't think I'm all that. The bad times don't last and when things go well, I always say: 'Don't think you're a champion because you're going to come down sooner rather than later.' It's better to be prepared for the good and bad times because they're going to come.
Some time ago, you and Federer where the president and vice-president of the Player Council. You left and now you've returned. Why?
- The reason is because the situation had become a bit stuck. We had to help calm things down. There were things going on that weren't painting our sport in the right image. It was an image of conflict. The president left, we were talking to the press all day about situations that weren't about tournaments and results. It was more political. I spoke with Roger and we agreed that if we were there again, with our experience, we would be able to give a valid opinion of how we think we could do things better. We're happy at how we're working in the Player Council and let's hope we can help the circuit be a success.
If you equal or beat Federer's numbers, will you accept the title of being the best tennis player of all time?
- It's not important to me, if only I'm given this title. I understand for you, the media, the journalists, you have to write about this. For me, it's already satisfying to form part of the history of our sport. I've been training and making an effort since I was eight. Being where I am at 33 is already an incredible achievement. We're in numbers that were unimaginable. People can already think who is the best and who isn't. For me, it's a great honour to be in this group.
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Rafa Nadal has never hidden his love for Real Madrid, but this season his admiration for Los Blancos has returned after a difficult season in 2018/19.
The tennis world No.1 also offered his thoughts on Robert Moreno's dismissal as Spain head coach and the return of Luis Enrique, as well as the reasons behind Real Madrid's resurgence, and also the famous comparison between Roger Federer being the Lionel Messi of the tennis world and Nadal being like Cristiano Ronaldo.
You are a big football fan. How do you think the Spanish national team will get on at Euro 2020?
- With the controversies, we are doing badly. We saw it with Julen [Lopetegui]. It was an accumulation of negative circumstances. We were of the favourites for the trophy [World Cup] due to our trajectory, and the dismissal of Julen weakened us. Let's not make the same mistake. You have to have peace of mind and continuity. I am happy that after the tragedy that Luis Enrique has had, he has the inner strength to lead [Spain] again. The way Robert came out could have been done better.
And what about your Madrid?
- This Madrid has given me a new lease on life after a difficult last year and a difficult start to the season. I only talk about Madrid as a fan and not as a football expert. As a sportsman I think it's very difficult when we have many months of bad dynamics to change it radically. Madrid at the beginning had the negative dynamic of the previous year and the players continued with that mistrust that doesn't let you play with the mental freedom to develop to the best of your abilities. But now Madrid has been at a very high level [and has been] exemplifying what the team is about for two months. I like to watch them play again. There have been a lot of injuries; [Eden] Hazard's presence is vital.
Have you talked to your friend Florentino Perez again to try and break the tennis attendance record at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu?
- It is very difficult because of the dates in general. On the dates you can do it, which is summer, there are fewer people in Madrid. We [also] have Roland Garros, Wimbledon...
Do you agree with the football comparison that Federer would be Messi in football and you would be Cristiano?
- No comparison is possible. They are two completely different sports and Messi's characteristics are not those of Federer nor are those of Cristiano like mine. Each one is as he is.
Source: MARCA English