Rafa Roundup: Nadal honoured to be compared to Sampras and Borg

Photo: Argentina Open
Photo: Argentina Open

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Rafael Nadal lifted his first trophy since last year’s French Open and for good measure closed in on a long-standing ATP Tour record Sunday by claiming the Argentina Open crown. Argentina legend Guillermo Vilas led the way with 49 wins in clay court tournaments, but today’s “King of Clay” drew nearer to the leading mark by winning his 46th title in Buenos Aires. He was also claiming his 65th title from 93 tour-level finals, breaking out of a tie with legends Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg for fifth place in the all-time list.

“All titles are special, but I’m really happy because I have not been a champion for a long time,” said Nadal. “Against Monaco, I played my best of the week. That is great news for me because I’m trying to gain more confidence.” … “They have an impressive history,” Nadal said of Sampras and Borg. “That’s why it is an honour to be compared to them.”

That’s because Vilas, who according to the ATP started the day with 46 career clay titles, ended the day with 49. Have you ever heard of a player winning three titles in one day? Not a bad day’s work for a 62-year-old! Well, Vilas didn’t win all three titles on Sunday, but because his title count on clay had been incorrectly counted—three tournaments that he had won on clay in the past had since switched to hard court so they were incorrectly counted as hard—the ATP corrected the mistake and added the three titles before the final. 

Photo via Argentina Open
Photo via Argentina Open

“Clay is a traditional surface of our sport, we need to protect that,” Nadal said. … “Most of the players on the Tour like sport in general so we want to keep having chances to practice sport and enjoying life. When I finish [my career] I would like to be able to play a game of football with friends but playing so much on hard courts complicates that.

“Cuando las cosas no salen bien durante un tiempo, todo es difícil, parece que no llega, pero si uno le pone ilusión y trabajo, la recompensa viene”, dijo. “El inicio del año ha sido complicado, pero poquito a poco voy encontrando las sensaciones. Me ha hecho mucha ilusión ganar aquí”, añadió el ganador, que en la segunda quincena de marzo afrontará el Masters 1.000 de Indian Wells, sobre cemento. “Objetivo cumplido. Me llevo una sensación y un recuerdo inolvidable”.

Sliding and slugging, Nadal was back in his element on clay, and he knew it. By the time he stabbed a backhand for an improbable winner against Delbonis and celebrated by throwing two fists in the air, any lingering thoughts of Rafa’s decline had disappeared in the red dirt.

PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal captures Buenos Aires title

Photo: Twitter/@DamianBlaum
Photo: Twitter/@DamianBlaum

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10 comments

  1. Congrats Rafa…so happy you won…hope this helps to restore belief in yourself…we your fans all do…didn’t see any of the matches not shown in the UK …but you WON…looking forward to Indian Wells…trust yourself your amazing…go get em RAFA …oh and Vamos xx

  2. Every good wish to you Rafa from we old girls in Winnipeg, Canada. Unfortunately our TV did not show your matches this week. That is Shaw TV . Shame, shame , shame. Enjoy every hour ofevery day. Jean Palmer

  3. Rafa seems so happy with this win I’m sure this will boost his confidence a lot especially not winning for a while. Keep strong and positive Rafa you are doing great and will win more titles. Happy to see him when he’s smiling makes my day

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