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Rafael Nadal's dream year puts injury problems behind him

By Helen Chandler, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rafael Nadal speaks exclusively to CNN's Open Court
  • World number says 2010 has been a dream so far
  • Spaniard says he wasn't sure if he would ever get back to top of game after knee injury
  • Nadal credits his family for giving him a normal life

(CNN) -- World number one Rafael Nadal says 2010 has been a dream year so far, after the Spaniard recovered from a knee injury in 2009 to reclaim his French Open and Wimbledon crowns, and the world number one ranking.

"It's just amazing for me you know, more than dream because I was 11 months without winning a tournament, so that wasn't an easy time for me," he told CNN's Open Court.

The 24-year-old said he was so happy with his success as he was not sure if he would ever return to the top of tennis after his knee problems forced him out of the sport last year.

After being knocked out in the fourth round of the 2009 French Open by Sweden's Robin Soderling, preventing him from winning a fifth consecutive title in Paris, Nadal's ongoing knee problem also stopped him from competing and defending his title at Wimbledon.

Home hopes distant ahead of U.S. Open

"It was a hard month after that retirement from Wimbledon. It was probably one of the hardest months of my career," he said.

"I worked very hard to build my level but I have doubts and at moments I didn't know if I'm going to be another time at my best."

Nadal's injury worries also coincided with problems off the court, as he struggled to come to terms with his parents' divorce. However, he refuses to blame any of his losses on his family situation.

Video: Head-to-head with Rafael Nadal

"It wasn't an easy moment for me, but it happened very often these moments for everybody so just accept that and accept the change.

"I always suffer for my mum, for my dad, for my sisters, so that makes me think more than things on tennis but it's not for that reason I lost the matches."

It was a hard month after that retirement from Wimbledon. It was probably one of the hardest months of my career
--Rafael Nadal
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In fact, Nadal, who is coached by his uncle Toni and still lives on his home island of Majorca surrounded by relatives, credits his close-knit family for his happiness and for keeping him grounded.

"The family is very important. They make me feel good always because if I won, when I started to be famous the relationship never changed with my friends and family," the eight-time grand slam champion said.

"I am very lucky because when I come back home I have a completely normal life. I can relax, playing golf, fishing -- doing what I want. I know when I finish a tournament, I am going to relax at home."

But even though he is happiest at home with his family, Nadal admits that he copes with the attention he receives being the world's best tennis player much better now than he did at the start of his career.

"I was shy when I was a kid, I was very shy, but now I think I've improved a lot.

"I can speak ok with the media and with the people. My English is still bad but I feel a little bit better now than before."