Nadal shows there's plenty of life in the old bull
TENNIS: He's won one Australian Open, but it's clear Rafael Nadal wants more.
As ever, there was a sincerity and class all athletes can learn from in his post-match address after his 2017 final loss to Roger Federer.
And even after an injury-ravaged 2016, it seems we can expect to see a lot more of the 30-year-old.
"Just amazing the way that he (Federer) is playing after such a long time without being on the Tour ... for sure you have been working a lot so congrats, I feel very happy for you," Nadal said on the dais.
"Probably Roger deserved it a little bit more than me, so I'm just going to keep trying.
"That is the third time I have this (runner-up trophy), it is beautiful but the (winner's) trophy is still much better. I'm going to keep trying hard to have that trophy with me again in the future."
Much like the 2009 Australian Open final between the same two players (won by Nadal), Sunday night seemed destined to go the distance. What started as a tennis lover's dream became reality, but the Spaniard found it hard to reflect so soon after the match on just where this contest ranked in the library full of Federer-Nadal battles.
"I don't know now. I just feel that has been a good match, five-set match, in a very special final for the fans and for us," Nadal said. "It's great to play against him again after couple of years without making that happen in a big final.
"But that's it. I cannot rank this final now."
Yes, he would have loved to have beaten Federer, obviously. But just as the champion said he would have happily lost or taken a draw, so satisfied already was he with his tennis comeback, so too was Nadal thrilled to be back on the court again.
That's what pleases him most. It's a simple pleasure, but it's all Nadal wants.
"I won great matches against great players. I competed well against everybody. That's the most important thing for me. That makes me feel happy," Nadal said.
"Of course, winning an event like this is so important. For me, if I won that one, will be amazing. But the real thing is what makes me more happy, more than the titles, is to go on the court and feel that I can enjoy the sport.
"Today I am enjoying the sport. Last year I only had the chance to enjoy the sport between Indian Wells and Madrid, because in Madrid I got an injury in quarter-finals. That's the real feeling.
"At this moment in my career, more than titles, for sure if I am playing here, I believe that I am going to win titles. More than all these kind of things is being healthy enough to work the way I need to work, to fight for the things I want to fight.
"I'm going to keep trying to do and to work the same way."