Rafa Nadal has smacked down speculation surrounding his retirement and announced his intentions to play at Wimbledon if his troublesome foot allows it.
There were rumours swirling in the lead-up to Sunday's French Open final that this would be Nadal's last match, with his PR agency even releasing a statement to deny he had called a special press conference to announce his retirement.
But after thrashing Casper Ruud 6-3 6-3 6-0 to win his 14th title at Roland Garros and 22nd grand slam overall, Nadal vowed to 'keep fighting' for as long as he can.
“It’s amazing the things that are happening this year,” Nadal said during the trophy presentation.
“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.”
Speaking in his post-match press conference, Nadal said he plans to play at Wimbledon and revealed he had pain-killing injections in his left foot to play the French Open.
The 36-year-old has a chronic issue with the foot and previously said there isn't much he can do about it.
He missed the entire second half of last year after having surgery and seemed to hint last week that he is heading towards retirement.
"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 reporters.
"I don’t want to put myself in that position again. It’s not a philosophy I want to follow.
"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 explained that he had played Sunday's final with a numbed foot thanks to a series of injections throughout the tournament, but said he would not go through a similar procedure again for the grass-court major.
Rafa Nadal makes tennis history with French Open title
The Spanish champion arrived in Paris with his own doctor to get through the tournament despite the injury.
Despite vowing to keep playing, Nadal said he might be forced to hang up the racquet if his foot issues don't improve.
“It’s obvious that with circumstances that I am playing, I can’t and I don’t want to keep going, so the mindset is very clear," he said.
"I’m going to keep working to try to find a solution and an improvement for what’s happening in the foot."
Giving details on what comes next for him, he said: "It's going to be a radio frequency injection on the nerve and trying to burn a little bit the nerve and create the impact that I have now on the nerve for a long period of time.
"That's what we are going to try. If that works, I'm going to keep going. If that does not work, then it's going to be another story.
"And then I am going to ask myself if I am ready to do a major thing without being sure that things are going the proper way, for example.
"A major surgery that doesn't guarantee me to be able to be competitive again and take a long time to be back (is a risk). So let's do it step by step, as I did all my tennis career."
Nadal has now extended his men's record haul of grand slam titles to 22, going two ahead of great rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
On Sunday he became the oldest champion in the history of the French Open, 17 years after winning his first title at Roland Garros as a 17-year-old.
He improved to 14-0 in finals at Roland Garros and improved his astonishing record at the clay-court grand slam to 112-3.
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