Rafael Nadal is not treating the Paris Masters as an opportunity to fight for a spot at the top of the ATP rankings.
Nadal has only played once – alongside retired Roger Federer at the Laver Cup – since he was knocked out in the fourth round of the US Open by Frances Tiafoe.
The 36-year-old has won two Grand Slam titles in 2022, at the Australian Open and the French Open, seeing him stay one step ahead of Novak Djokovic when it comes to the record for great triumphs.
Yet it is Nadal’s Spanish partner Carlos Alcaraz, about 17 years younger than him, who leads the world rankings ahead of the Paris Masters and the ATP end-of-season finals in Turin.
Nadal could still finish the year at the top, but to overcome Alcaraz he would likely need a deep run at the Paris Masters – one of two ATP 1000 tournaments he has yet to win in his illustrious career – and in northern Italy.
However, Nadal, who became a father last month, says he now has a much simpler goal than becoming the best player on the planet.
“To be clear, I understand this is an interesting point because you are talking about fighting for number one, [but] I am no longer fighting to be number one in the world, ”Nadal said at a press conference on Tuesday, one day before his opening match against Tommy Paul in the French capital.
“I just fight to stay competitive in every event I play in. It’s something I said a long time ago, I won’t fight to be number one anymore.
“I’ve done it in the past. I’ve achieved that goal a couple of times in my career and I’ve been very, very happy and proud to have achieved it. But I’m at a time in my tennis career where I’m not fighting to be number one. one.
“I’m just excited to be here. I’m here to do my best and then accept things as they are coming. I hope I’m ready, I’ll try to be competitive. Let’s see. Excited.”
Having dominated the game for so long, Nadal and reigning Paris Masters champion Djokovic find themselves in second and seventh place respectively on the ATP.
Nadal and Djokovic are the only players in the top 10 over the age of 30, with four of the other eight players under the age of 25.
“My feelings are that I am proud of all the things I could still be here in 2022,” said Nadal, when asked what it was like to compete against the next generation of talent.
“It’s something that says I’ve done a lot of good things in my life, not just my tennis career. To keep the passion, to keep the love for the game and the fighting spirit.
“I’m proud of it and I just hope to be able to enjoy the last two events of the year”.
With his son not yet a month old, Nadal admitted that he went missing at home.
“[A] different approach than usual. It has always been difficult to leave the house, to be honest, “she said.
“It’s pretty interesting how even after two or three weeks you leave your child at home and [are] not being able to visit him. It’s something quite interesting how even after only three weeks of getting to know him you start to miss him.
“So yes, a new experience, all the changes are difficult in his life and you have to adapt to it.”