Rafael Nadal would love to surpass Roger Federer’s men’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles but says he is not “crazy” about catching his great rival.
World number one Nadal won his 17th major by lifting his 11th French Open title on Sunday, beating seventh seed Dominic Thiem 6-4 6-3 6-2.
“Of course I have ambition. But I can’t always be thinking of more,” he said.
Nadal, 32, is second behind Federer in the list of all-time Grand Slam titles, three clear of Pete Sampras in third.
Veteran pair Nadal and Federer have won the past six Grand Slams as their younger rivals struggle to dislodge them at the pinnacle of the game.
Federer, 36, skipped the clay-court season for the second successive year, but will return for the grass-court season which culminates at Wimbledon next month.
“You can’t be frustrated if somebody has more money than you, if somebody has a bigger house than you, if somebody has more Grand Slams than you,” said Nadal, who will be top seed at Wimbledon.
“I’ve never been crazy about this kind of stuff. You can’t live with that feeling. You have to do your way.
“I’d love to have 20 like Roger in the future or more, but it is not something in my mind. I know I’ve had an amazing career so I want to keep fighting for these things.”
‘Tough times make this win special’
In a rare show of emotion, Nadal looked close to tears as he collected the Coupe des Mousquetaires again after beating Austrian Thiem.
He said it was because he had started the clay-court season with “some doubts” before going on to win a record-extending 11th title at Roland Garros.
Nadal did not play for more than two months after the Australian Open in January – where he withdrew from his quarter-final against Marin Cilic because of a hip injury.
He pulled out of planned appearances in Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami before returning at the start of April for Spain’s Davis Cup tie against Germany.
It was his only appearance before winning the Masters title in Monte Carlo in April, backing that up with victory at the Barcelona Open and another Masters title in Rome.
“I had a lot of months with injury problems, so coming back to win is very special,” he said.
“I came back from five months without playing a full tournament.
“So coming back and having the chance to win in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, and now especially here, it’s very emotional for me.
“I arrived so-so, with some doubts about this clay-court season.”
Thiem says he is “confident” his first appearance in a Grand Slam final will not be his last.
The 24-year-old finally reached the Roland Garros showpiece after losing in the semi-finals in 2016 and 2017.
“That’s my biggest goal, to get into the next one and then to do it better than today,” he said.
“Of course it’s going to be easier, a little bit, because it’s not going to be the first time anymore.”
Thiem is the only player to have beaten Nadal on clay in the past two years – winning in best-of-three set matches in Rome and Madrid.
However, he fell to a third successive straight-set defeat by the Spaniard at the French Open.
Thiem lost to Nadal in the second round on his Roland Garros debut in 2014, then again in last year’s semi-finals.
“I think it was the first time against him here in Roland Garros where it was a fight,” said Thiem, who told Nadal he remembered being 11 years old and watching the Spaniard win his first title in 2005.
“Honestly, I never expected that one day I would play the finals here so I am still really happy.
“Winning 11 times is definitely one of the best things somebody ever achieved in sport.”