Rafa Roundup: The superiority of Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal sharing a tender moment with his wife Maria Francisca Perello (Photo: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT)

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The last 20 years have been the worst to be good on clay, because it necessarily meant having to face Nadal. His domination, season after season, has made it impossible for other players to win the Parisian trophy. Only Björn Borg in the 1970s ever came close to the Spaniard’s record, and yet he watches him from afar from his six French Open cups, fewer than half as many as Nadal.

In 2005, 2006 and 2010 Nadal won all the matches he played on clay in the highest categories, about 20 each time. For a decade he won 90% of matches, between 2005 and 2014, and he returned to those numbers again between 2017 and 2020. By comparison, Djokovic has only been above 90% on hard courts for six years of his career, and they were not consecutive.

How is your foot feeling? “It hurt at night. When I wake up, and after two and a half weeks of taking a lot of anti-inflammatories and painkillers every six hours, this Monday has been complicated.”

Are you more tempted by life outside tennis because of all the problems you are having playing and how do you imagine it? “I imagine it to be just like the many times in my career that I have had to be out of competition for months due to injuries. I’ve always been happy outside of tennis, it’s not something that keeps me awake at night and I’m not afraid of it. I have said it many times: I am not afraid of my life after tennis. I have and have always had many things that make me happy beyond tennis. On a physical level I have what I have and, about my foot, if I want to, I can get rid of the pain in a fairly definitive way. What happens is that to get rid of the pain I have to have an operation to fix my foot, which would mean that I would not be able to continue playing tennis.”

– The 36-year-old has now earned at least one clay-court title in 19 consecutive years. He is also tied for the most trophies on the ATP Tour this season with Carlos Alcaraz. Both men have triumphed four times in 2022.

– Nadal is now 14-0 in Roland Garros finals. No other man has more than six titles at the tournament.

Rafa: “As I said couple of times in the past… we achieved our dreams. Me, Roger, Novak, we achieved things that probably we never expected. “For me, what drives me to keep going is not about the competition to try to be the best or to win more Grand Slams than the others. What drives me to keep going is the passion for the game, live moments that stays inside me forever, and play in front of the best crowds in the world and the best stadiums.”

“It seems impossible but every time he does it again. He has had a lot of physical difficulties but there are no adjectives to describe Rafael’s career, it’s spectacular,“ said the Catalan coach, who was unable to watch the final against Norwegian Casper Ruud.

“I have the impression that if his body can take it, he will continue to make history.”

When asked if Nadal is the best Spanish athlete in history, Guardiola is clear. “Without doubt”, he stressed.

“I feel like all these great champions, they kind of accept that they may lose. I remember even last year when Rafa lost in semi-finals, I met him coincidentally next day, at breakfast in the hotel, and I said to him that I was crying basically the whole evening because he lost.

“He was, like, ‘Oh, it’s just a tennis match. You win, you lose. It’s normal’. Not everybody can do that and just treat those big moments as another match.”

Social media related to Rafa:

Rafa arrives to Mallorca after winning 14th French Open

5 comments

  1. While I am absolutely on board with saying Rafa is the greatest of all time – in ANY SPORT – I am not okay with saying he is a “god on earth.” No one is. There is but ONE God and I don’t think it’s wise to play with that – even if it’s just hyperbole. Just be careful…. HE might answer 😉 But GOD BLESS RAFA!

  2. Nadal will be treated today if it works hé plays wimbeldon if not take long vacation

  3. Take rest Rafa and and be back on the court when your body and mind say yes❤️

  4. The greatest of them all. RRAFA. Without a doubt. Wishing him all the best at Wimbledon after a good three weeks and more of rest. We fans want a third Wimbly. Doesn’t matter if he doesn’t win the USO for a fifth time. 😁😂👍👍

  5. The sweetest photo of them all-Rafa and lovely Maria. Just do what makes you happy and content with your life. The world now knows what we always believed-that you are a phenomenon and an inspiration. Thank you, Rafa, for being a warrior who never gives up-those clutch moments when we could barely watch🫣you just got on with it and made history 🏆🙏🎾👑❤️

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