Rafael Nadal admitted Sunday that his injury-hit career has forced him to contemplate that “every match I play here could be my last".
The 35-year-old Spaniard made the French Open quarter-finals for the 16th time with an epic 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime in a match which lasted four hours and 21 minutes.
It was only the third time in his 17-year, 112-match career in Paris that Nadal had been stretched to five sets.
For his troubles, he will meet world number one Novak Djokovic for the 10th time at Roland Garros and 59th overall in a rivalry stretching back to 2006.
Nadal arrived in Paris unsure if he would be able to take part after suffering a recurrence in Rome of a chronic foot injury which has plagued him for large parts of his career.
Last year, he missed Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open to recover.
“I know my situation, and I accept it. I can’t complain much. I am in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros. Two weeks and a half ago, I didn’t know if I would be able to be here," said Nadal who won the first of his 13 French Open titles on debut in 2005.
“So just enjoying the fact that I am here for one more year. And being honest, every match that I play here, I don’t know if it’s going to be my last match here in Roland Garros in my tennis career.
“That’s my situation now. Of course I went through a tough process again with my foot, so I don’t know what can happen in the near future with my career."