Rafael Nadal admitted on Sunday that his injury-ridden career had made him think that “every match I play here could be my last.”
The 35-year-old Spaniard advanced to the quarterfinals of the French Open for the 16th time in four hours and 21 minutes after winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 against Felix Agar-Aliasim of Canada.
It was the third time in his 17-year, 112-match career in Paris that Nadal had stretched to five sets.
For his problems, he will meet world number one Novak Djokovic for the 10th time at Roland Garros and the 59th time overall in a rivalry that has expanded since 2006.
Nadal arrived in Paris unsure whether he would be able to take part in Rome after a recurrence of a chronic leg injury that has plagued him for much of his career.
Last year, he missed out on winning Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open.
“I know my situation, and I accept it. I can’t complain much. I am in the quarter finals of Roland Garros. Two and a half weeks ago, I didn’t know if I would be able to come here, “said Nadal, who won his 13th French Open title in his debut in 2005.
“It simply came to our notice then. And to be honest, every match I’ve played here, I don’t know if it’s going to be my last match at Roland Garros in my tennis career.
“It simply came to our notice then. Of course, I went through a difficult process with my feet again, so I don’t know what could happen to my career in the near future. “
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