Borg: ‘Nadal is an artist!’ Monday, May 13, 2013, by Myrtille Rambion, published at rolandgarros.com
Despite the fact that he had his record of French Open titles stolen by the Spaniard last year, Björn Borg is fulsome in his praise of Rafael Nadal, who added a seventh crown to his incredible record last year. The Swede, a six-time winner in Paris, not only warmly congratulated Nadal on his seventh Roland Garros success but hopes that the Matador from Manacor will go on to win many more. And with Rafa having just bagged his 55th title at the ATP Masters 1000 in Madrid (and 40th on clay no less), he is in pole position according to Borg to make it eight triumphs at the Porte d’Auteuil in a few weeks’ time. Yes, Borg is what you could call an unconditional Nadal fan…
Björn, what do you think of the Big Four (Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Nadal) who are currently dominating men’s tennis?
First of all, I’d like to say that I’m delighted that Nadal is back, that he is playing again at last. He’s a very important figure for tennis in general. He has a really strong personality and whatever he does, he creates a buzz around tennis just by coming on court. As for Roger, I hope that he’ll be around for another few years. As far as I’m concerned, he is the greatest player of all time. Djokovic is the best player there is at the moment, and he’s certainly proved that, and Murray’s up there as well. The rivalry between these four guys is incredible, and it’s exactly what tennis needs.
Nadal is currently 26 years old which is the age you were when you decided to give up tennis. And he looks like he is going to carry on smashing every clay-court record in existence…
He’s incredible – he’s is the best player that there has ever been on clay! Watching him play on this surface and how he is evolving… At least he’s injured some of the time, which gives the others a ray of hope! On clay though, he’s still the man to beat – and that will always be the case for as long as he is playing. We saw that at Monte Carlo and that’s not going to change at Roland Garros, where it’s best-of-five sets out on Centre Court! He’s only ever lost there once, remember… There’s no-one better than him on this surface! People don’t realise this – maybe the public has been spoilt to a certain extent. Rafa’s quite simply an artist when it comes to clay!
Are you surprised at how well he has been playing since coming back after a seven-month absence?
I’m not surprised that Nadal has managed a come-back like this. If he didn’t have the motivation, he wouldn’t have bothered coming back. He still wants to win and I reckon that he can win a few more Grand Slams – fingers crossed, health and fitness permitting. But he’s a clever man and he been on the circuit for long enough now to know what he can and can’t do. I repeat, he’s the man to beat in Paris, and I’m really looking forward to watching him there. You can still see his hunger for victory. He’s still enjoying it and having fun. And as I say, getting the better of him on clay is… well, complicated (laughs).
How did you feel when he beat your French Open title record last year?
I was delighted for him. I know Rafa and I like him very much as a person. He really is a great guy, and I was the first to congratulate him! I hope he’ll win many more, starting with his eighth French Open title this year! He’s incredible, both as a player and a person.