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Nadal motivated by love of game, not Federer's Grand Slam record

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Rafael Nadal

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ByReuters
09/09/2019 at 07:32 | Updated 09/09/2019 at 19:53

Rafa Nadal moved within one Grand Slam title of tying Roger Federer's all-time mark of 20 on Sunday but even after adding a fourth U.S. Open to his collection the Spaniard said it was his love of the game, not records, that motivates him.

Rafa Nadal moved within one Grand Slam title of tying Roger Federer's all-time mark of 20 on Sunday but even after adding a fourth U.S. Open to his collection the Spaniard said it was his love of the game, not records, that motivates him.

Nadal fended off a late comeback from Daniil Medvedev to win a five-set classic at Flushing Meadows, winning a 19th slam that also took him three clear of Novak Djokovic's 16 titles.

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"I am playing tennis because I love to play tennis," Nadal told reporters.

"I can't just think about Grand Slams. Tennis is more than Grand Slams. I need to think about the rest of the things. I play to be happy. Of course, the victory of today makes me super happy."

At 33, Nadal may have the edge on Federer, the 38-year-old Swiss crashing out of the US Open in the quarter-finals and failing to add to his Grand Slam titles since winning the 2018 Australian Open.

He said that while he was honoured to be part of the battle to be crowned the greatest of all time, and thrilled if it attracted more fans to the game, he would still sleep well if he comes up short.

"You can't be all day looking next to you about if one having more or one having little bit less because you will be frustrated," he said.

"All the things that I achieved in my career are much more than what I ever thought and what I ever dream. I would love to be the one who have more. But I really believe that I will not be happier or less happy if that happens or not happen.

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"What gives you the happiness is the personal satisfaction that you gave your best. In that way I am very, very calm, very pleased with myself."

Medvedev trailed Nadal by two sets to love before producing a rousing comeback, only to fade away to Nadal in the deciding set, and went some way to winning over the New York crowd, with whom he had clashed earlier in the tournament.

"You guys see that I can also change because I am a human being," Medvedev told the crowd after applauding Nadal's 19th Grand Slam title.

"Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. I know earlier in the tournament I said something in kind of a bad way and now I’m saying it in a good way: That it's because of your energy that I'm in the final.

"You guys were pushing me to prolong this match because you want to see more tennis and because of you guys I was fighting like hell."

Medvedev, who had never previously made it past the fourth round of a Grand Slam, became the player fans loved to hate when he angrily snatched a towel from a ball-kid in his third-round match and showed the crowd his middle finger.

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TennisUS OpenRafael NadalDaniil Medvedev
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