Rafa Nadal smiles jokes US Open 2019

Rafael Nadal admits ‘physical issues’ have taken their toll on him but he’s happy to still be on top

Rafael Nadal says he never expected to be world number one at the age of 33 after all he has put his body through.

Nadal had a stellar second half to 2019, overcoming ankle surgery to finish the season with two Grand Slam titles to his name, and as the oldest year-end men’s world number one in history.

He also added to his Masters titles collection at the Rogers Cup and led Spain to victory in the newly revamped Davis Cup.

“I’m very happy that after all of the physical issues that I had to suffer through my career, which are a lot, I’m delighted to be where I am, being 33,” Nadal told reporters in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open.

“This is something I value and that gives me great personal satisfaction. Because you make the extra effort it means that you have the chance to compete again the next day.

“And the next day, you’re going to be playing better. Sometimes when I’m in the first round or second round, and I’m not playing well, I say, ‘okay, just accept it. Don’t get frustrated. Just accept and focus’.”

Rafael Nadal is the top seed for the Australian Open, but Novak Djokovic is perhaps the favourite after he put in a dominant performance against the Spaniard in the ATP Cup final last week.

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Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.