Nadal insists he's not Spain's greatest athlete

US Open champion Rafael Nadal returned home today, insisting his latest tennis triumph did not qualify him as Spain's greatest-ever athlete.

Nadal, who became the seventh player to win a career Grand Slam with Monday's victory, said any comparisons to the greats was "madness."

"As a tennis player I took an important step forward with this and these have been six unforgettable months," Nadal said shortly after touching down from New York at Madrid's Barajas airport. "I can't say that I'm the best Spanish sports person of all time because I have no idea. But it's an honor to be considered."

Nadal's 2010 triumphs, including French Open and Wimbledon titles, have brought his career slams total to nine by the age of 24.

His triumphs have played a big part of a tremendous year of international sporting success for Spain, which won football's World Cup for the fist time and saw Alberto Contador win his third Tour de France in cycling.

"I don't know where (my successes) fit into this year. They are all important," the No. 1-ranked Nadal said. "Luckily, we're living during an era of Spanish sport that will be difficult to repeat. Of course we could repeat it, but we should enjoy it (now)."

Nadal's rivals for consideration of Spain's sporting great include the likes of five-time Tour champion Miguel Indurain and two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso.

While Nadal has replaced four-time majors champion Manolo Santana as the country's greatest tennis player, the Mallorca native still feels he has some improving to do.

"I'm not a complete player - there are always things I can improve," Nadal said. "(But) I'm so happy with everything that happened and can't ask for anything more"

Nadal said his three-major accomplishment of 2010 wasn't necessarily better than 2008, when he won his first Wimbledon and Olympic gold, something he considered more difficult than a Grand Slam title given the chance only comes around once every four years. He also preferred to wait and see how he fares in November's World Tours Final in London, too.

Nadal, whose improved serve saw him drop only one set at the US Open en route to beating Novak Djokovic in the final, said his main rival Roger Federer was still the benchmark of the sport and should not be written off yet.

The Swiss player, who has won a record 16 Grand Slam singles titles, wasted two match points in his semifinal defeat to Djokovic.

"I would love to have the success of Federer," Nadal said. "In nine years he's achieved things that are practically impossible to repeat. It's difficult to be 100 percent each year, but he's managed to do it and it's normal to have a little drop."

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea