Rafael Nadal revealed he almost took a break before the French Open, then convinced himself to continue playing and find his game again.
The world No. 2 claimed his record-setting 12th French Open title, the most won by a player at any one event. But he had a slow start on clay, having been sidelined with injuries since Indian Wells. Nadal also finished 2018 with knee issues and ankle surgery.
"I've had too many issues," he told press following his win in the final against Dominic Thiem. "One possibility was to stop for a while and recover my body. And the other was to drastically change my attitude and my mentality."
The Spaniard fell in the Monte Carlo semifinals and had a tough first round at Barcelona before reaching the finals, saying he was turning his play around. He was then defeated in the semifinals of Madrid but captured the title in Rome before dominating the Roland Garros field.
"Mentally I was not enjoying things," he said. "After the first round in Barcelona, I was able to stay alone for a couple of hours in the room and think about what's going on, what I need to do. Thinking a lot, finally I was able to change and fight back for every small improvement to make that happen. And since that first match in Barcelona, I think things have been improving every single day."
That climb back is an achievement as satisfying as winning another French Open, he noted.
Nadal also announced his withdrawal from the ATP event at London's Queen's Club, which was scheduled to be his grass-court warmup.